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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA68021/4
Recording details: January 2012
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: October 2013
Total duration: 2 minutes 34 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)

À sa guitare, FP79
composer
September 1935; composed as part of Poulenc's music for Édouard Bourdet's play La Reine Margot
author of text

Other recordings available for download
Dame Felicity Lott (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançais
The famous singing actress Yvonne Printemps' first collaboration with Poulenc was in a play entitled Margot by Édouard Bourdet (1887–1945). Both Poulenc and Georges Auric provided music for this production which was about the remarkable Queen Marguerite de Navarre (1492–1549), sister of the first Valois king, François Ier. She was a key cultural figure in the French Renaissance and considered to be one of the first modern women. Each composer wrote a song for Printemps, and both set words of Ronsard. In addition Poulenc wrote seven short pieces of incidental music, inspired by the Livre de danseries of Claude Gervais (circa 1550), which were published as Suite française FP80, either for piano or small orchestra.

In the ten years since composing his Poèmes de Ronsard Poulenc has changed as a song composer, and no longer feels the need to prove his credentials as an important modernist. For the final scene of Bourdet’s play he is content to write a song of mournful ennui, a sixteenth-century pastiche certainly (the composer confessed that he had thought of the fifteenth-century Château of Plessis-les-tours when writing it), but with a memorable melody and full of personal feeling. (Eighteen years later Benjamin Britten was to write a similarly haunting evocation—the second lute song of the Earl of Essex from Gloriana.) Ronsard’s wonderful poem with this title is in thirteen strophes; sadly, but understandably, Poulenc selects only the first and third, the first verse appearing twice in an ABA structure, framed by a prelude and postlude suggesting the twanging of lute strings.

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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