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Calligrammes, FP140

May to August 1948; Sept mélodies sur des poèmes de Guillaume Apollinaire
author of text
Calligrammes, 1913-1916; subtitled Poèmes de la Paix et de la Guerre; published April 1918

Calligrammes is work inspired by war. This was Poulenc’s last Apollinaire cycle, written in 1948, although the composer had known these poems since they had first appeared in 1918—he bought his copy of the sumptuous large-format first edition (published by Mercure de France, with a drawing by Picasso of the poet, a war-hero with a bandaged head) in Adrienne Monnier’s bookshop. How extraordinary and exciting these ‘calligrammes’ (drawn poems, poems-in-pictures, bold experiments in typography) must have seemed in 1918! The poet had written (and designed) this collection between 1913 and 1916; they recount one man’s reactions, a poet in his mid-thirties and in love (when was Apollinaire not in love?) as he survived from day to day through emotional vicissitudes and a cruel and senseless war. The collection’s subtitle (‘Poèmes de la Paix et de la Guerre’) emphasizes that before, and even during, Apollinaire’s time at the front he experienced—and remembered—times of repose and delight. These poems germinated in Poulenc’s brain for thirty years during which time he burnished his skills with regard to composing Apollinairian music, eventually ready to tackle, as he put it, ‘the culmination of a whole range of experiments in setting Apollinaire’. The composition of Calligrammes was also a massive exercise in nostalgia for the composer as he returned to a time in his youth, the spring of 1918, when he bought a copy of these poems in Paris as he himself prepared to leave for the front. Nineteen years younger than Apollinaire, Poulenc could at least claim to have participated, even if only at the margins, in the same war as his beloved poet.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2013


Poulenc: The Complete Songs
CDA68021/44CDs for the price of 3
Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 3
Studio Master: SIGCD272Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Poulenc: Voyage à Paris


No 1: L'espionne  Pâle espionne de l’Amour
Track 24 on CDA68021/4 CD2 [1'51] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 24 on SIGCD272 [1'48] Download only
No 2: Mutation  Une femme qui pleurait
Track 25 on CDA68021/4 CD2 [0'41] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 25 on SIGCD272 [0'44] Download only
No 3: Vers le sud  Zénith
Track 26 on CDA68021/4 CD2 [1'36] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 26 on SIGCD272 [1'52] Download only
No 4: Il pleut
Track 27 on CDA68021/4 CD2 [1'12] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 27 on SIGCD272 [1'12] Download only
No 5: La grâce exilée  Va-t’en va-t’en mon arc-en-ciel
Track 28 on CDA68021/4 CD2 [0'43] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 28 on SIGCD272 [0'39] Download only
No 6: Aussi bien que les cigales  Gens du midi gens du midi
Track 29 on CDA68021/4 CD2 [1'52] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 29 on SIGCD272 [1'52] Download only
No 7: Voyage  Adieu Amour nuage qui fuit et n'a pas chu pluie féconde
Track 30 on CDA68021/4 CD2 [2'55] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 5 on CDH55366 [3'04]
Track 30 on SIGCD272 [2'49] Download only

Track-specific metadata for CDA68021/4 disc 2 track 27

Il pleut
Recording date
11 March 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 27
    Release date: October 2013
    4CDs for the price of 3

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