Where would Poulenc have been without his melancholic streak? It’s that juxtaposition of emotions that makes this composer once dubbed ‘half man, half thug’ so endlessly fascinating. And we find both aspects of his character rubbing shoulders here. Mélancolie
opens with a wistful melody, almost Chopinesque in tone, set against a rippling backdrop; the whole effect is unashamedly nostalgic and gives little hint of the emotional rollercoaster to come. And as so often with Poulenc it is the moments where he’s smiling, where the harmonies and key flirt with the major, that he tugs at your heartstrings most profoundly. It’s perhaps not surprising to learn that Mélancolie
was completed in 1940, in war-torn France.
from notes by Harriet Smith © 2012