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Hyperion Records

Click cover art to view larger version
Track(s) taken from CDA67255/6
Recording details: January 1999
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Release date: November 1999
Total duration: 13 minutes 26 seconds

'An altogether first-class collection of Poulenc's very individual chamber music output played with real sensitivity … .outstanding performances. The whole issue wins my enthusiastic recommendation: it bids fair to become the undisputed yardstick for the future.' (Gramophone)

'A set which will surely and deservedly be popular.' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Thoroughly excellent' (The Observer)

'Entrancing. It's hard to select the choicest treasures from this jewel box of Poulenc's most witty and vivacious, hauntingly melodic and touchingly heartfelt music, especially when it is played with such effervescence and devotion as here. The two masterpieces are the Sextet for Piano and Winds (1932) and the delectable "Mozartian" Trio for Piano, Oboe and Bassoon, played with dashing elan and soulful lyricism by the pianist Ian Brown and the Nash's brilliant wind principals. Richard Watkins's long-breathed account of the moving Elégie in memoriam Dennis Brain (1957) and Paul Watkins's noble-toned playing of the Cello Sonata (1940/48) are exceptional. But there is rapture, elation, zany high spirits in all of this music, dazzlingly played by the Nash Ensemble. Buy, buy, buy!' (The Sunday Times)

'It would be hard to imagine more consistently on-target presentations of Poulenc’s chamber music or more appropriate sound reproduction. Highly recommended' (Fanfare, USA)

'Thirteen pieces lovingly brought to life by the Nash Ensemble. For once, the word 'jewel-box' for the CD container sounds about right.' (BBC CD Review)

'Those who treasure performances of this music should hear this recording to discover the insights which the very best of today's musicians bring to these scores' (Classical Express)

Sonata for oboe and piano

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Composed in 1962, Poulenc’s Oboe Sonata, the last of his three woodwind sonatas, is inscribed to the memory of Serge Prokofiev. Its opening Élégie, marked ‘Paisiblement’, begins with the oboe’s high D, the first note of an introductory four-note phrase. What follows is equally familiar Poulenc: a steady bass line below pulsing harmony with which the piano supports the oboe’s plaint in G, a line informed throughout by the gruppetto that begins it. Then the piano initiates a more second lyrical theme in E flat major, soon adopted by the oboe. A third theme featuring a double-dotted rhythmic motif provides the climax of the movement before the peaceful recapitulation of previous material and a quiet ending.

The central Scherzo, based on B flat, presents an animated 6/8 movement in which pointed rhythms are balanced with smoother motifs, and an arpeggio is altered rhythmically to rock up and down. A slower and more lyrical middle section rises to a climax in the piano part, gradually receding to a dominant close before the toccata-like Scherzo resumes without respite up to a brusque ending.

The final Déploration, marked ‘Très calme’, muses on A flat minor on a chorale-like theme announced by the piano. A ‘verse’ in C minor follows before the oboe sings out the plaint proper above the piano’s quaver pulse, marked ‘monotone’. There are several shifts in tonality before the final page clinches the essentially sad mood of the movement.

from notes by Felix Aprahamian © 1999

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