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Banalités, FP107

composer
October to November 1940
author of text

 
The title Banalités, given by Poulenc to his 1940 cycle of five Apollinaire poems, was taken from a collection of that name Apollinaire published in 1914, containing ‘Hôtel’ and ‘Voyage à Paris’. The composer found the remaining three poems in other collections. The resulting cycle therefore has a sense of movement about it, of twice gaining and finally leaving the comfort of the capital. In ‘Chanson d’Orkenise’, Poulenc had in mind the city of Autun, as he would in the Chansons villageoises written two years later. But this is not the city beautiful: the ‘vanupieds’ is cousin to the ‘mendiant’ of the later cycle, and the gates of the city close against him. After the smoky indolence of ‘Hôtel’ (surely Poulenc’s laziest song), we are fighting implacable winds on the desolate bogs of southern Belgium, even if the piano epilogue does give some comfort. Then ‘Voyage à Paris’, an even more boisterous version of ‘L’anguille’—Bernac and Poulenc liked to perform this song at the end of their exhausting concert tours, with home in sight. But finally … ‘Sanglots’. In later years Poulenc came to criticise some of the modulations as being ‘unexpected, and obviously so’. Do composers always know the value of their own music? Apollinaire’s language is, for once, enigmatic . But in some strange way Poulenc’s notes clarify it, if not always in detail, at least in its general thrust—melancholy, nostalgic, yet resigned, the regularly pulsing quavers assuring us that ‘my broken heart’ is indeed no different from ‘the heart of all men’. Then, on the phrase ‘la fin des temps’, Poulenc places a major chord. Writing in Paris in November 1940, was he saying that there would, eventually, be freedom, even if only in another world?

from notes by Roger Nichols © 2011

Recordings

Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 5
Studio Master: SIGCD333Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Poulenc: The Complete Songs
CDA68021/44CDs for the price of 3
L'heure exquise
Studio Master: CDA67962Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Poulenc: Voyage à Paris
CDH55366

Details

No 1: Chanson d'Orkenise  Par les portes d’Orkenise
Track 26 on CDA68021/4 CD3 [1'35] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 21 on SIGCD333 [1'33] Download only
No 2: Hôtel  Ma chambre a la forme d'une cage
Track 27 on CDA68021/4 CD3 [1'52] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 21 on CDA67962 [1'45]
Track 6 on CDH55366 [1'52]
Track 22 on SIGCD333 [1'49] Download only
No 3: Fagnes de Wallonie  Tant de tristesses plénières
Track 28 on CDA68021/4 CD3 [1'35] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 23 on SIGCD333 [1'31] Download only
No 4: Voyage à Paris  Ah! la charmante chose
Track 29 on CDA68021/4 CD3 [0'56] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 20 on CDA67962 [0'58]
Track 1 on CDH55366 [0'50]
Track 24 on SIGCD333 [1'00] Download only
No 5: Sanglots  Notre amour est réglé par les calmes étoiles
Track 30 on CDA68021/4 CD3 [4'30] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 25 on SIGCD333 [4'27] Download only

Track-specific metadata for CDH55366 track 6

Hôtel
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-86-14706
Duration
1'52
Recording date
16 February 1984
Recording venue
St George the Martyr, Queen Square, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Martin Compton
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
  1. Poulenc: Voyage à Paris (CDA66147)
    Disc 1 Track 6
    Release date: January 1989
    Deletion date: August 2008
    Superseded by CDH55366
  2. Poulenc: Voyage à Paris (CDH55366)
    Disc 1 Track 6
    Release date: June 2011
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