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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA68021/4
Recording details: May 2010
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: October 2013
Total duration: 4 minutes 20 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)

Métamorphoses, FP121
composer
1943
author of text

Other recordings available for download
Dame Felicity Lott (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançais
The printed source of two of these poems (songs ii and iii) is Louise de Vilmorin’s collection Le sable du sablier, where their titles are Portrait and Métamorphoses. The latter title makes sense for this particular poem because it is the violin that is made to take on so many different imaginary shapes. Bernac’s copy of this collection is inscribed by the poet as follows: ‘À Pierre Bernac / Notre amitié est plus forte / que les mouettes et les / sables. Louise de Vilmorin, Noël 1945, Paris.’ The date of this suggests that Bernac must have received the handwritten texts of these poems (including the unprinted first poem, Reine des mouettes) at a much earlier date. A great admirer of Vilmorin, he had personally ensured that he could lay hands on poems by her that were suitable for a male singer, and then delivered them to Poulenc. The HMV recording the duo made of these three songs on a single side of a 12” 78 record was one of their most successful.

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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