FRANCIS POULENC (1899-1963)
Complete Chamber Music, Volume Three.
Capriccio d'après Le bal masqué. Sonata for two pianos.
Elégie. L'embarquement pour Cynthère. Sonata for piano duet.
Sonata for two clarinets. Sonata for clarinet and bassoon. Sonata for horn,
trumpet and trombone.
Alexandre Tharaud, François
Chaplin (pianos); Ronald Van Spaendonck, André Moisan (clarinets),
Laurent Lefèvre (bassoon); Hervé Joulain (horn); Guy Touvron
(trumpet); Jaques Mauger (trombone).
Naxos 8.553613 [DDD]
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Recorded in Poulenc's centenary year (1999), this disc provides a satisfying
balance between well-known and more obscure works. It's a good idea to have
an (almost) all-Gallic line up of musicians (the clarinettist André
Moisan is French-Canadian) and as a result they feel fully at ease in Poulenc's
The opening 'Capriccio d'après Le bal masqué' sets up a party
atmosphere. Dedicated to Samuel Barber, it exudes an infectious sense of
fun spiced with bitter-sweet contrasts. The spikier world of the 'Sonata
for two pianos' is given a persuasive rendition by Tharaud and Chaplin, who
together project the controlled emotionalism of the Andante lyrico well (Poulenc
saw this movement as the heart of the work).
The planning of this disc means that there is no problem listening all the
way through in one sitting. The two-piano sonata' and the dreamy 'Elegie'
are separated from the piano duet sonata by the cheekily light 'L'embarquement
pour Cynthère'. The Sonata for Piano Duet (containing some lovely
half-tone shades in the second movement) leads naturally to the antics of
the sonatas for two clarinets and clarinet and bassoon.
The crowning performance has to be the Sonata for horn, trumpet and trombone.
The outer movements are brimming with bonhomie (the mood of the finale is
straight out of 'Les Biches'). , but it is the slow, lyrical middle movement
which shines with real feeling. It is a million miles away from the Grimethorpe
fake emotionalism so frequently encountered.
Very highly recommended indeed. The recording is more than adequate.