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À sa guitare, FP79

September 1935; composed as part of Poulenc's music for Édouard Bourdet's play La Reine Margot
author of text

The famous singing actress Yvonne Printemps' first collaboration with Poulenc was in a play entitled Margot by Édouard Bourdet (1887–1945). Both Poulenc and Georges Auric provided music for this production which was about the remarkable Queen Marguerite de Navarre (1492–1549), sister of the first Valois king, François Ier. She was a key cultural figure in the French Renaissance and considered to be one of the first modern women. Each composer wrote a song for Printemps, and both set words of Ronsard. In addition Poulenc wrote seven short pieces of incidental music, inspired by the Livre de danseries of Claude Gervais (circa 1550), which were published as Suite française FP80, either for piano or small orchestra.

In the ten years since composing his Poèmes de Ronsard Poulenc has changed as a song composer, and no longer feels the need to prove his credentials as an important modernist. For the final scene of Bourdet’s play he is content to write a song of mournful ennui, a sixteenth-century pastiche certainly (the composer confessed that he had thought of the fifteenth-century Château of Plessis-les-tours when writing it), but with a memorable melody and full of personal feeling. (Eighteen years later Benjamin Britten was to write a similarly haunting evocation—the second lute song of the Earl of Essex from Gloriana.) Ronsard’s wonderful poem with this title is in thirteen strophes; sadly, but understandably, Poulenc selects only the first and third, the first verse appearing twice in an ABA structure, framed by a prelude and postlude suggesting the twanging of lute strings.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2013

En 1935, Poulenc retravailla la musique du compositeur seiziémiste Claude Gervais dans sa Suite française (à la fois œuvre de chambre et suite pour piano). Contemporaine, À sa guitare montre la patte d’un pasticheur raffiné. Toute cette musique fut, en réalité, écrite pour Margot, une pièce de théâtre d’Édouard Bourdet sur Marguerite de Valois, même si Poulenc choisit de mettre en musique des vers de Pierre de Ronsard (1524–1585). Cette mélodie fut créée par la célèbre actrice et chanteuse Yvonne Printemps. L’orchestration, qu’on peut entendre sur le fameux disque de cette dernière, a depuis été perdue.

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


Poulenc: The Complete Songs
CDA68021/44CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 1
Studio Master: SIGCD247Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Poulenc: Voyage à Paris


Track 29 on CDA68021/4 CD4 [2'34] 4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Track 27 on CDH55366 [2'39]
Track 15 on SIGCD247 [2'56] Download only

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