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Toréador, FP11

Toréador, FP11

First line:
Pépita reine de Venise
Autumn 1918, revised 1932; 'Chanson hispano-italienne'; dedicated À Pierre Bertin
author of text

Image details:
Cover of Poulenc’s Toréador, designed and drawn by Jean Cocteau
Poulenc makes his song-composing debut under Jean Cocteau’s wing—the chanson was more or less commissioned (without fee of course!) for a Cocteau-inspired ‘Séance’ a the Vieux-Colombier Music-Hall, crossover 1918-style, where it was almost certainly sung with instrumental accompaniment by its dedicatee, the singing actor Pierre Bertin (1891–1984), the husband of the famous pianist Marcelle Meyer. It so happens that he was the exact namesake of another Pierre Bertin (1899–1979) who was later forced to change his stage name (being the younger member of the actors’ union) to Pierre Bernac. Poulenc used to sing this silly song himself, to the delight of his friends, and was eventually persuaded to publish it, doing so only in 1932. It is a strictly strophic creation, in the manner of a popular hit, the refrain sung slower the third time around. The words are sheer whimsy: the story concerns Pépita, so-called queen of Venice for whom the toreador conceives an unrequited passion. In the manner of a Peter Blake montage the bullring is transported to Venice’s Piazza San Marco, gondoliers become Spanish galleons and the oldest doge in the city enjoys Pépita’s favours, all sheer insouciant nonsense, quasi-surrealist.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2013

Toréador (paroles de Jean Cocteau, 1889–1963) est la seule mélodie que, de l’aveu de ses contemporains, Poulenc, vocalement peu doué, chantait mieux (et d’une manière plus nasale) que quiconque. C’est un fatras d’absurdités hispano-vénitiennes puissamment évocateur du music-hall. Et c’est le genre de musique tonitruante que Poulenc (inspiré par Maurice Chevalier) pouvait improviser au mètre, dans son adolescence; de ce matériau brut, il tirera une évocation plus subtile dans les mélodies de sa maturité.

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. 2
Studio Master: SIGCD263Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Poulenc: Voyage à Paris


Track 1 on CDA68021/4 CD3 [5'13] 4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Track 28 on CDH55366 [4'30]
Track 1 on SIGCD263 [6'26] Download only

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