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Track(s) taken from CDA68021/4

Huit chansons polonaises, FP69

First line:
Targa swéj wianeczek
January to April 1934; written for Maria Modrakowska

Agnieszka Adamczak (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
Recording details: September 2011
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: October 2013
Total duration: 1 minutes 49 seconds

Other recordings available for download

Magdalena Molendowska (soprano), Malcolm Martineau (piano)


'Johnson's playing is marvellous, virtuosic where needed, but above all attuned to every nuance of his singers. This really is a multifaceted release: the blending of the art forms that was characteristic of Poulenc's time, where poets were absorbed by painters, and composers by poets, alongside the 15 singers gathered on these discs, together with the chameleon-like nature of Poulenc's own genius, all make for an enterprise of dazzling complexity. The recording quality is exemplary, combining clarity with a perfect bloom on the piano sound' (International Record Review)

'There are some outstanding performances: Christopher Maltman's account of Miroirs brûlants and La fraîcheur et le feu (both based on Eluard), and the Calligrammes (on Apollinaire's texts) are worth the price on their own, while Sarah Fox is just as persuasive in Les chemins de l'amour as she is in Tel jour telle nuit. There are telling contributions, too, from Ailish Tynan, Susan Bickley and Ben Johnson, and a brief appearance in the Quatre chansons pour enfants by the English grande dame of French song Felicity Lott. Touchingly, one work also features the voice of baritone Pierre Bernac, Poulenc's recital partner, for whom many of the songs were composed; he's the narrator in a 1977 recording of L'histoire de Babar and the whole set is dedicated to his memory. It's a gorgeous collection, and for sometime Poulenc sceptics like me, a real revelation' (The Guardian)» More

'Especially enjoyable is the final disc, subtitled Fancy. Soprano Susan Bickley is superb in Poulenc’s early Poèmes de Ronsard—sparky settings of Renaissance poetry, and Ashley Riches has fun with the better-known Chansons gaillardes. The Huit chansons polonaises, sung by Agnieszka Adamczak, pay oblique homage to Poulenc’s beloved Chopin. There’s not a weak link among the vocal cast, and there’s even a cameo from the great Felicity Lott. A wonderful bonus is the inclusion of a 1970s BBC taping of Babar, narrated with impeccable grace and wit by Poulenc’s long-time recital partner Pierre Bernac. Johnson’s accessible, comprehensive notes deserve to be published in book form, and Hyperion generously provide full texts and translations. These songs will comfort the most jaded of palates, and this box set contains enough riches to sustain a lifetime’s listening. In Johnson’s words, Poulenc’s music 'has seemed dark and joyous, accessible and remote, imperishable yet infinitely fragile, and now it is in the hands of a younger generation'.' (TheArtsDesk.com)
These songs, harmonizations and arrangements of Polish melodies, were made by Poulenc at the request of the Polish soprano Maria Modrakowska (1896–1965) with whom the composer-pianist toured Morocco in 1935. It was Modrakowska who chose the songs and provided the notes on their historical background. Poulenc thought her ‘incomparably gifted’ and that she ‘sang divinely’. To his consternation and disappointment, the singer disappeared inexplicably from his musical horizons after this collaboration. Poulenc compared this work with Ravel’s arrangement of Greek folksongs (Cinq mélodies populaires grecques). When writing those arrangements Ravel had a free hand, largely because, as Poulenc put it, he had no ‘ghost of an Athenian Chopin’ to haunt him. The work as a whole is, almost inevitably, a homage to the Polish composer whose music Poulenc so loved. The poems come from the period when Poland was occupied by Russia, Germany and Austria, a baleful state of affairs that gave rise to the Polish insurrection that began on 29 November 1830 (known as the November Uprising) and continued into the autumn of 1831. This was a valiant revolution of patriotic combat and fervour, but it was eventually crushed by Russia because none of the big powers came to the aid of the Poles. It made a difference of course to both Modrakowska and Poulenc that the outcome of this struggle was of crucial importance to the expatriate Chopin; he had left Poland to begin his European career shortly before the November Uprising, and his heart was entirely with his countrymen. His angry disappointment and fury at the eventual victory of the Russians knew no bounds. Poulenc dedicated each song in the set to an important female member of the expatriate Polish community in Paris—including Ida Godebska, Misia Sert, Marya Freund and Wanda Landowska.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2013

Other albums featuring this work

Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 4
Studio Master: SIGCD323Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
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