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Le travail du peintre, FP161

Le travail du peintre, FP161

August 1956; commissioned by Alice Esty who gave the first performance in Paris in 1957, the composer at the piano
author of text
1948; Voir

Image details:
The cover of Paul Éluard's Voir, Poulenc's source for the texts
Poulenc had an impeccable eye for art and could write about pictures with great perspicacity. Extracts from a journal that he kept on a visit to America describe graphically (in every sense) his museum visits and his enchanted reactions to paintings by Zurbarán, Ingres, David, Daubigny, Chardin. But it was of course the paintings of his contemporaries that interested him most—and particularly the painters that were dear to his two great poets Éluard and Apollinaire. ‘I thought it would stimulate my work to paint musically’, wrote Poulenc in JdmM. When the composer told Éluard about his plan to write a cycle about painters, the poet ‘half-promised’ to write a poem about Henri Matisse, the painter from whom Poulenc had apparently learned a great deal about economy of style, the paring down to essentials of his piano-writing texture. (Apollinaire writes movingly about Matisse in Il y a.) Éluard was so close to Picasso (someone remarked that the love between them was the love of equals) that he was only lukewarm in his appreciation of Matisse. In any case, why should Éluard publish a poem in praise of a painter who had been so closely associated with the dreaded Louis Aragon and whose genius, moreover, rivalled that of the easily offended Catalonian colossus? The cycle was commissioned by the American soprano Alice Esty, who gave the first performances in both Paris (1957, with the composer) and New York (1958); needless to say, there was no Matisse to end the cycle in the ‘joy and sunlight’ Poulenc had envisaged. The texts are taken from Voir (1948), an anthology of Éluard poems, mostly old, some new, about the artists the poet had most admired, who had been an integral part of his life and work. The large-format publication permits illustrations, some in colour, taken in part from the poet’s own dazzling collection. Works by all the painters in Poulenc’s cycle were owned by Éluard at different times in his life, paintings and drawings by Picasso (including numerous depictions of Nusch) outnumbering the others.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2013


Poulenc: The Complete Songs
CDA68021/44CDs for the price of 3
Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 2
Studio Master: SIGCD263Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


No 1: Pablo Picasso  Entoure ce citron de blanc d’œuf informe
Track 38 on CDA68021/4 CD2 [2'45] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 28 on SIGCD263 [2'32] Download only
No 2: Marc Chagall  Âne ou vache coq ou cheval
Track 39 on CDA68021/4 CD2 [1'13] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 29 on SIGCD263 [1'12] Download only
No 3: Georges Braque  Un oiseau s’envole
Track 40 on CDA68021/4 CD2 [1'31] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 30 on SIGCD263 [1'34] Download only
No 4: Juan Gris  De jour merci de nuit prends garde
Track 41 on CDA68021/4 CD2 [2'08] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 31 on SIGCD263 [2'11] Download only
No 5: Paul Klee  Sur la pente fatale le voyageur profite
Track 42 on CDA68021/4 CD2 [0'50] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 32 on SIGCD263 [0'47] Download only
No 6: Joan Miró  Soleil de proie prisonnier de ma tête
Track 43 on CDA68021/4 CD2 [1'35] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 33 on SIGCD263 [1'43] Download only
No 7: Jacques Villon  Irrémédiable vie
Track 44 on CDA68021/4 CD2 [2'13] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 34 on SIGCD263 [2'16] Download only

Track-specific metadata for CDA68021/4 disc 2 track 43

Joan Miró
Recording date
12 May 2011
Recording venue
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Julian Millard
Hyperion usage
  1. Poulenc: The Complete Songs (CDA68021/4)
    Disc 2 Track 43
    Release date: October 2013
    4CDs for the price of 3

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