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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: 15 minutes 6 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'.' (

Tel jour telle nuit, FP86
December 1936 to January 1937; Neuf mélodies sur des poèmes de Paul Éluard
author of text

Other recordings available for download
Dame Felicity Lott (soprano), Malcolm Martineau (piano)
Dame Felicity Lott (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançais
This is by far the most famous of Poulenc’s song cycles—in the same way that Dichterliebe can be said to be the most famous of Schumann’s. Just as that composer’s musical relationship with the poet Heine is perfectly expressed within the sixteen songs of Dichterliebe, Poulenc’s affinity with Éluard is made crystal clear in the nine separate, but musically interconnected mélodies of Tel jour telle nuit, a cycle in the same way that Fauré’s La bonne chanson is a cycle, the last song a summing-up of what has gone before. The work was begun in December 1936 in Noizay and was completed by January 1937 with the first and last songs composed as a matching pair in Lyon. The distinction of the dedicatees show Poulenc’s confidence: Pablo Picasso, Freddy (Fréderique Lebedeff, later the mother of his daughter), Nush (sic) Éluard, Valentine Hugo, Marie-Blanche de Polignac (songs v and vi), Denise Bourdet, Pierre Bernac and Yvonne Gouverné (the choral conductor who introduced almost all of Poulenc’s choral music to the world). How it came to be that the mauvais garçon of French music, the spoiled son of a rich family who had been famous for his insouciance and his Leg Poulenc, found it within himself to voice the quiet radiance, the humility and grandeur, the rapture, the terror, the profound humanity and compassion of this great poet is one of the mysteries of French music. Like Die schöne Müllerin for Schubert, this was a watershed work. In early January 1937 with the first performance only a month away, Poulenc asked the poet for a title for the work (each of the songs had individual titles which the composer declined to use). Éluard supplied a choice of four epithets for the cycle as a whole; his preferred choice was Tout dire, but Poulenc selected his second suggestion, Tel jour telle nuit, which encompasses the contrast between the opening and closing songs.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2013

Other albums featuring this work
'Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 2' (SIGCD263)
Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 2
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 44.1 kHz £9.00ALAC 24-bit 44.1 kHz £9.00 SIGCD263  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'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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