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Tel jour telle nuit, FP86
December 1936 to January 1937; Neuf mélodies sur des poèmes de Paul Éluard
author of text

'Poulenc: The Complete Songs' (CDA68021/4)
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'Poulenc: Voyage à Paris' (CDH55366)
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No 1: Bonne journée
No 2: Une ruine coquille vide
No 3: Le front comme un drapeau perdu
No 4: Une roulotte couverte en tuiles
No 5: À toutes brides
No 6: Une herbe pauvre
No 7: Je n'ai envie que de t'aimer
No 8: Figure de force brûlante et farouche
No 9: Nous avons fait la nuit

Tel jour telle nuit, FP86
This is by far the most famous of Poulenc’s song cycles—in the same way that Dichterliebe can be said to be the most famous of Schumann’s. Just as that composer’s musical relationship with the poet Heine is perfectly expressed within the sixteen songs of Dichterliebe, Poulenc’s affinity with Éluard is made crystal clear in the nine separate, but musically interconnected mélodies of Tel jour telle nuit, a cycle in the same way that Fauré’s La bonne chanson is a cycle, the last song a summing-up of what has gone before. The work was begun in December 1936 in Noizay and was completed by January 1937 with the first and last songs composed as a matching pair in Lyon. The distinction of the dedicatees show Poulenc’s confidence: Pablo Picasso, Freddy (Fréderique Lebedeff, later the mother of his daughter), Nush (sic) Éluard, Valentine Hugo, Marie-Blanche de Polignac (songs v and vi), Denise Bourdet, Pierre Bernac and Yvonne Gouverné (the choral conductor who introduced almost all of Poulenc’s choral music to the world). How it came to be that the mauvais garçon of French music, the spoiled son of a rich family who had been famous for his insouciance and his Leg Poulenc, found it within himself to voice the quiet radiance, the humility and grandeur, the rapture, the terror, the profound humanity and compassion of this great poet is one of the mysteries of French music. Like Die schöne Müllerin for Schubert, this was a watershed work. In early January 1937 with the first performance only a month away, Poulenc asked the poet for a title for the work (each of the songs had individual titles which the composer declined to use). Éluard supplied a choice of four epithets for the cycle as a whole; his preferred choice was Tout dire, but Poulenc selected his second suggestion, Tel jour telle nuit, which encompasses the contrast between the opening and closing songs.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2013

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Details for CDA66147 track 18
Nous avons fait la nuit
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 18
    Release date: January 1989
    Deletion date: August 2008
    Superseded by CDH55366
  2. Poulenc: Voyage à Paris (CDH55366)
    Disc 1 Track 18
    Release date: June 2011
    Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
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