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Le bal masqué

Cantate profane sur des poems de Max Jacob
author of text

About Le bal masqué, Poulenc never had qualms. ‘To a lady from Kamchatka,’ he said, ‘writing to ask what I’m made of, I would send her my portrait at the piano by Cocteau, my portrait by Christian Bérard, Le bal masqué and the Motets pour un temps de pénitence. I think from those she’d get a very precise idea of Poulenc-Janus.’ Of all his works, Le bal masqué is perhaps the least susceptible to analysis, or even description. The action is all on a surrealist level, divorced from anything resembling causality or common sense, even the made-up popular tunes coming and going without rhyme or reason. The brilliant, often garish instrumental colours ‘underline the bombastic, the ridiculous, the pitiable, the terrifying. It’s the atmosphere of the colour plates in the Petit parisien of my childhood. "Oh Gawd!" my grandmother’s cook would exclaim, "’ere’s annuver bloke wot’s done in ’is sister-in-law."' And at the end of the piece ‘the audience should be stupefied and exhilarated as though they’d just got off a merry-go-round.’ As the critic said of Poulenc’s Max Jacob songs a decade earlier, Le bal masqué is flooded with ‘music, colour, and life’.

from notes by Roger Nichols © 2011


Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 5
Studio Master: SIGCD333Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


No 1: Préambule et Air de bravure  Madame la Dauphine, fine, fine, fine
Track 26 on SIGCD333 [4'04] Download only
No 2: Intermède
No 3: Malvina  Voilà que j’espère vous effraye
Track 28 on SIGCD333 [2'06] Download only
No 4: Bagatelle
No 5: La dame aveugle
Track 30 on SIGCD333 [2'05] Download only
No 6: Finale  Réparateur perclus
Track 31 on SIGCD333 [4'08] Download only

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD333 track 26

Préambule et Air de bravure
Recording date
3 June 2011
Recording venue
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
John H West
Recording engineer
Andrew Mellor
Hyperion usage
  1. Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 5 (SIGCD333)
    Disc 1 Track 26
    Release date: June 2015
    Download only
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