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Trois poèmes de Louise Lalanne, FP57

February 1931; dedicated to Comtesse Jean de Polignac

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

Dans les Trois Poèmes de Louise Lalanne Apollinaire put se faire passer pour une poétesse dans les pages de la revue littéraire Marges. Mais la paresse de Montparnasse l’emporta et, pressé par une date butoir, il fouilla dans les notes littéraires de sa maîtresse pour dénicher quelque chose de convenablement féminin. Sa tendre collaboratrice n’était autre que le peintre Marie Laurencin (1885–1956; un de ses tableaux orne la couverture de ce livret), conceptrice des costumes et des décors du premier grand succès de Poulenc, le ballet Les Biches, présenté par Diaghilev en 1924. Laurencin avait été «découverte» avec enthousiasme par Apollinaire, influent critique d’art. Dans ce corpus, seule l’ineptie éclair intitulée Chanson est de lui, Le présent (où Poulenc est influencé par l’implacable dernier mouvement de la Sonate en si bémol mineur de Chopin) et Hier étant des textes de son amie. Hier est la première mélodie pour laquelle Poulenc recourt à la veine lyrique qui marquera tant de ses meilleures chansons. Quand il la composa en 1931, ses folles années étaient derrière lui. Dans cette mélodie, le pitre et le gueux le montre capable de mélancolie, et il choisit le style d’une boîte parisienne enfumée (plane le fantôme de Marie Dubas, devancière de Piaf) pour faire sa tendre révélation.

extrait des notes rédigées par Graham Johnson © 1985
Français: Hypérion


Poulenc: The Complete Songs
CDA68021/44CDs for the price of 3
Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 2
Studio Master: SIGCD263Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Poulenc: Voyage à Paris


No 1: Le présent  Si tu veux je te donnerai
author of text
from Apollinaire's collection Il y a of 1925

Track 1 on CDA68021/4 CD1 [0'58] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 7 on CDH55366 [0'47]
Track 2 on SIGCD263 [0'54] Download only
No 2: Chanson  Les myrtilles sont pour la dame
author of text
1925; from Il y a

Track 2 on CDA68021/4 CD1 [0'46] 4CDs for the price of 3
Track 8 on CDH55366 [0'35]
Track 3 on SIGCD263 [0'42] Download only
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]
Track 4 on SIGCD263 [2'09] Download only

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