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Trois poèmes de Louise de Vilmorin, FP91

composer
December 1937; dedicated to Marie-Blanche de Polignac
author of text

 
Louise de Vilmorin (1902–1969) was a member of the family whose celebrated firm still supplies the well-to-do French middle classes with flower and vegetable seeds. ‘Few people move me as much as Louise de Vilmorin’, wrote Poulenc in JdmM, ‘because she is beautiful, because she is lame, because she writes French of an innate purity, because her name evokes flowers and vegetables, because she loves her brothers like a lover and her lovers like a sister. Her beautiful face recalls the seventeenth century, as does the sound of her name.’ She was a friend of Marie-Blanche de Polignac, who was originally the recipient of the third poem in the set as a Christmas present in 1935. Poulenc read the poem and immediately encouraged Louise to write more. The composer was charming in his insistence, and the poet eventually complied; all three of the songs that were brought to birth as a result were dedicated to Marie-Blanche, who sang them exquisitely—although no recording survives.

Though less well known and far less performed than the cycle Fiançailles pour rire this is a masterful group of songs composed, significantly I think, after the composer’s reconversion to Catholicism (at the shrine of the Black Virgin at Rocamadour in the Dordogne in 1936). It is the first set of songs to be composed after the great Éluard song cycle Tel jour telle nuit, and is the first specifically female cycle—bearing in mind that Tel jour telle nuit concludes with as wonderful a hymn to a woman’s deeper qualities, in fact Éluard’s hymn to his wife Nusch, that has ever been penned by a French composer.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2013

Recordings

Poulenc: The Complete Songs
CDA68021/44CDs for the price of 3
Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 1
Studio Master: SIGCD247Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

Details

No 1: Le garçon de Liège  Un garçon de conte de fée
Track 8 on CDA68021/4 CD1 [1'33] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 17 on SIGCD247 [1'27] Download only
No 2: Au-delà  Eau-de-vie! Au-delà!
Track 9 on CDA68021/4 CD1 [1'32] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 18 on SIGCD247 [1'21] Download only
No 3: Aux officiers de la Garde Blanche  Officiers de la Garde Blanche
Track 10 on CDA68021/4 CD1 [3'19] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 19 on SIGCD247 [3'48] Download only

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