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The Complete Songs of Francis Poulenc Volume 1
Composed over a period of 44 years the 150 works for piano and voice of Francis Poulenc remain consistently popular to concert audiences the world over. Varying in their individual style and character in a way that defies generalisation, Poulenc set music to a wide range of different French poetry – both ancient and modern, from the serious to the surreal.
This release marks the first in a new series charting the complete songs of Francis Poulenc, performed by some of the greatest singers of the day and accompanied by the exceptional Malcolm Martineau. Future releases will feature several works that have never before been recorded.
“The best performances... - Murray in the early Cocteau cycle Cocardes, Maltman in the Chansons Gaillardes, Milne in Fiançailles pour Rire – are very fine, even if it remains a disc to sample piecemeal rather than as a whole” The Guardian, 17th March 2011 ***
“This is a delightful project...Plus factors include national treasure Felicity Lott, divine in the 1960 cycle La Courte Paille. There’s also the masterly accompaniment of Malcolm Martineau, who helps to confirm Poulenc’s belief that his songs contained better piano music than any of his solo pieces.” The Times, 26th March 2011 ***
“Poulenc's singular mix of whimsy, religiosity and cool wit guarantees plenty of variety, and each song has a characteristically elaborate, note-rich piano part. Malcolm Martineau accompanies with judicious, sharp-eared facility and experience.” The Observer, 3rd April 2011
“Alongside Malcolm Martineau's searching piano, the singers find a consistent character: considered, spacious, unaffected but cumulatively intense, to the extent that you may need to pause and catch your breath every so often...Anderson finds a deadpan, butter-wouldn't-melt character for Vilmorin's more suggestive lines, while Maltman brings good humour and a poker face to the earthy Chansons galliardes” BBC Music Magazine, June 2011 *****
“these are songs that benefit greatly from the kind of musical intelligence Lott has in abundance...The early Chansons gaillardes are eloquently sung by Christopher Maltman...Lorna Anderson gives straightforward and very attractive readings...Lisa Milne is similarly excellent in the cycle Fiancailles pour rire and the slightly later group of three Metamorphoses” International Record Review, May 2011
Usually despatched in 3 - 4 working days.
Christine Lajarrige (piano), Michel Piquemal (baritone)
“The first time Michel Piquemal met Pierre Bernac, for whom most of these songs were written, Piquemal recalls that Bernac said: 'I am very moved, because what you're doing is exactly what Francis Poulenc was hoping for. He would have been happy.' Afterwards Piquemal studied both with Bernac and Denise Duval, the two singers who were closest to the composer, so this recital is part of a real, authentic tradition. The greatest challenge for a singer comes in the bestknown songs, for instance Montparnasse and 'C'.
Piquemal doesn't disappoint. He hasn't got the luxurious voice for the lyrical climax of the first, at the words 'Vous êtes en réalité un poète lyrique d'Allemagne / Qui voulez connaître Paris,' but he delivers all the complicated Apollinaire verse in this and the cycle Banalités with a complete understanding of the necessary balance between stressing the irony and maintaining the strict forward-moving musical line.
The one group that wasn't composed for a light baritone is Chansons villageoises, which, although sung and recorded by Bernac, was intended for a Verdi baritone; 'Un tour de chant symphonique' Poulenc called it. Like Bernac, Piquemal doesn't have the opulent vocal quality here that Poulenc was looking for, but instead he has an actor's way with the words that brings personality and humour to a text such as the opening 'Chanson du clair tamis' – très gai et très vite in Poulenc's marking.
All the brilliance of Maurice Fombeure's poetry gains clarity from Piquemal's diction and sense of fun, while the ensuing sadness of 'C'est le joli printemps' and the macabre parable of 'Le mendiant' are sharply contrasted.
If you want to sample this disc, try Bleuet, and the 'sensitive lyricism' that Bernac wrote of. It's one of8 the saddest songs Poulenc composed, with its image of the young soldier, the blue referring to the uniform of the conscript who has seen such terrible things while he's still almost a child. It has to be sung 'intimately', wrote Poulenc; Bernac, however, thought that it should also be 'virile and serious'. The penultimate line in which the boy faces the reality – he knows death better than life – is sung by Piquemal with a natural feel for the simplicity of the poem, never overdoing the emphasis, and never becoming arch.
At Naxos's low price this is a first-rate introduction to Poulenc's songs, but more than that it's an example of the best kind of French singing.
Christine Lajarrige is a sensitive accompanist, for Poulenc always acknowledged that his songs are duets, for voice and piano.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“Michel Piquemal's Poulenc recital on Naxos is a real bargain, and a superb introduction to the composer's melodies. Piquemal gained the confidence of Pierre Bernac early in his career, and Bernac told him that his way with Poulenc's music would have made him happy.” Gramophone Magazine
(also available to download from $5.75)
Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days. (Available now to download.)
Poulenc - Songs
“Consistently refined and idiomatic performances...Lott is a stylist par excellence and her sympathy for and affinity with the songs of Poulenc is long-standing.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition
Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days.