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Trois poèmes de Louise Lalanne, FP57
February 1931; dedicated to Comtesse Jean de Polignac

'Poulenc: The Complete Songs' (CDA68021/4)
Poulenc: The Complete Songs
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'Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 2' (SIGCD263)
Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 2
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'Poulenc: Voyage à Paris' (CDH55366)
Poulenc: Voyage à Paris
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No 1: Le présent  Si tu veux je te donnerai
No 2: Chanson  Les myrtilles sont pour la dame
No 3: Hier  Hier, c'est ce chapeau fané
author of text
from Apollinaire's collection Il y a of 1925

Track 3 on CDA68021/4 CD1 [2'02] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 9 on CDH55366 [1'56] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Track 4 on SIGCD263 [2'09] Download only

Trois poèmes de Louise Lalanne, FP57
The poems are not by Louise Lalanne, if such a person ever existed. They appear in Guillaume Apollinaire’s collection entitled Il y a, published posthumously in 1925. Marie Laurencin (1885–1956), the famous painter and the designer of Poulenc’s ballet Les biches, confessed to the composer that she was the author of the first and third poems, whereas Chanson was by Apollinaire himself.

Each of the songs introduces a type of mélodie that would later come to be considered generically typical of the composer; perhaps this is why Poulenc wrote in JdmM in connection with this work that with Apollinaire he had at last found his ‘true melodic style’. Le présent has an accompaniment that doubles the voice and hurtles through the staves like a miniature storm, the hands an octave apart throughout—inspired, surely, by the ‘wind across the graves’ of the last movement (also a Presto) of Chopin’s B flat minor Piano Sonata. This is one of Poulenc’s innumerable moments as a musical magpie. Chanson is also a moto perpetuo, more populist than the first song. This is a vintage piece of so-called ‘leg Poulenc’ with its echoes of the music-hall and the madcap gaiety of the 1920s. Poulenc wrote that he considered it a counting song in the manner of ‘Am–stram–gram–pic et pic et colégram’. Hier is eloquent and touching, prophesying the long sinuous vocal lines, accompanied by flowing quaver chords, for which this composer was to become justly famous. It is the first of his songs where Poulenc permits the shadow of a slow and nostalgic popular style to influence the mood of a deeply serious song. He manages to do this without cheapening his music; rather is it enriched with a nostalgia for ‘yesterday’ that seems especially French, in fact uniquely Parisian, especially for the British or American listener. While he composed the music Poulenc admitted to thinking of the operetta and musical star Yvonne Printemps, and of an interior painted by Vuillard. ‘If you think carefully of the words you are saying’, he advised in JdmM, ‘the colour will come of itself.’ The set as a whole is dedicated to the Comtesse Jean de Polignac, daughter of the great couturier Jeanne Lanvin, and better known as Marie-Blanche de Polignac, a fine soprano in her own right. Perhaps that is what made Poulenc think of Vuillard, who painted both Lanvin and her beautiful daughter.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2013

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Details for CDA68021/4 disc 1 track 1
Le présent
Recording date
16 July 2008
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 1 Track 1
    Release date: October 2013
    4CDs for the price of 3
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