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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA68021/4
Recording details: September 2011
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: October 2013
Total duration: 10 minutes 28 seconds

'Johnson's playing is marvellous, virtuosic where needed, but above all attuned to every nuance of his singers. This really is a multifaceted release: the blending of the art forms that was characteristic of Poulenc's time, where poets were absorbed by painters, and composers by poets, alongside the 15 singers gathered on these discs, together with the chameleon-like nature of Poulenc's own genius, all make for an enterprise of dazzling complexity. The recording quality is exemplary, combining clarity with a perfect bloom on the piano sound' (International Record Review)

'There are some outstanding performances: Christopher Maltman's account of Miroirs brûlants and La fraîcheur et le feu (both based on Eluard), and the Calligrammes (on Apollinaire's texts) are worth the price on their own, while Sarah Fox is just as persuasive in Les chemins de l'amour as she is in Tel jour telle nuit. There are telling contributions, too, from Ailish Tynan, Susan Bickley and Ben Johnson, and a brief appearance in the Quatre chansons pour enfants by the English grande dame of French song Felicity Lott. Touchingly, one work also features the voice of baritone Pierre Bernac, Poulenc's recital partner, for whom many of the songs were composed; he's the narrator in a 1977 recording of L'histoire de Babar and the whole set is dedicated to his memory. It's a gorgeous collection, and for sometime Poulenc sceptics like me, a real revelation' (The Guardian) » More

'Especially enjoyable is the final disc, subtitled Fancy. Soprano Susan Bickley is superb in Poulenc’s early Poèmes de Ronsard—sparky settings of Renaissance poetry, and Ashley Riches has fun with the better-known Chansons gaillardes. The Huit chansons polonaises, sung by Agnieszka Adamczak, pay oblique homage to Poulenc’s beloved Chopin. There’s not a weak link among the vocal cast, and there’s even a cameo from the great Felicity Lott. A wonderful bonus is the inclusion of a 1970s BBC taping of Babar, narrated with impeccable grace and wit by Poulenc’s long-time recital partner Pierre Bernac. Johnson’s accessible, comprehensive notes deserve to be published in book form, and Hyperion generously provide full texts and translations. These songs will comfort the most jaded of palates, and this box set contains enough riches to sustain a lifetime’s listening. In Johnson’s words, Poulenc’s music 'has seemed dark and joyous, accessible and remote, imperishable yet infinitely fragile, and now it is in the hands of a younger generation'.' (TheArtsDesk.com)

Banalités, FP107
composer
October to November 1940
author of text

Introduction
Poulenc was very clear that he thought of this work as a set of songs, rather than a cycle. The composer put the words together for the set from two sources: poems (iii) and (v), long-time favourites, were taken from the main part of Il y a, that important posthumous collection (1925) of the poet’s works. Poulenc chanced on the texts for songs (ii) and (iv) in October 1940 as he nostalgically leafed through the literary reviews that he had collected in his adolescence: he alighted on Littérature for 8 October 1919 where five Apollinaire poems, (ii) and (iv) among them, were published under the title Banalités—so violà, now he had four poems to make a set and also a title. He now needed one more song with which to begin the cycle.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2013

Other albums featuring this work
'Poulenc: Voyage à Paris' (CDH55366)
Poulenc: Voyage à Paris
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55366  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
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