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'Les Six' was the appellation given to a group of young French composers circa 1920 who briefly worked together as a counter-offensive to the excesses and giganticism of 'late-Romantics' typified by such composers as Mahler and Schoenberg. But the movement didn't last long and each of the 'six' soon went his (or in one case her) own way. The most familiar names of the six today are Poulenc, Honegger, Milhaud and Auric. Also, to some extent, Germaine Tailleferre. The least remembered member of the group is undoubtedly Louis Durey, who died as recently as 1979. Like Britain's Rutland Boughton and Alan Bush, his career was seriously hampered because of his well-publicised political beliefs. He was a communist, even setting to music some of the writings of Ho Chi Minh.
Durey's turn in our French Song Edition has now come, and this disc assembles a programme of his virtually unknown songs including settings of Apollinaire's Bestiaire, the only composer to set all thirty of them.