Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

REVIEW
RECORDING OF THE MONTH



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 

 

alternatively
CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Hommage à Francis Poulenc
Francis POULENC (1899 – 1963)
Le Bestiaire (1918)
1. I. Le Dromadaire [1:32]
2. II. La Chèvre du Tibet [0:36]
3. III. La Sauterelle [0:23]
4. IV. Le Dauphin [0:30]
5. V. L’Ecrevisse [0:49]
6. VI. La Carpe [1:10]
Cocardes (1919)
7. I. Miel de Narbonne [2:50]
8. II. Bonne d’Enfant [2:00]
9. III. Enfant de Troupe [2:11]
Trois Poemes de Louise Lalanne (1931)
10. I. Le Présent [0:53]
11. II. Chanson [0:40]
12. III. Hier [1:52]
13. A sa Guitare (1935) [2:40]
Tel Jour Telle Nuit (1937)
14. I. Bonne journée [2:35]
15. II. Une coquille vide [2:10]
16. III. Le front comme un drapeau perdu [1:06]
17. IV. Une roulotte couverte en tuiles [0:58]
18. V. A toutes brides [0:36]
19. VI. Une herbe pauvre [1:37]
20. VII. Je n’ai envie que de t’aimer [0:48]
21. VIII. Figure de force brÛlante et farouche [1:25]
22. IX. Nous avons fait la nuit [3:24]
23. Tu vois le feu du soir (1938) [4:11]
Banalités (1940)
24. I. Chanson d’Orkenise [1:27]
25. II. Hôtel [2:01]
26. III. Fagnes de Wallonie [1:30]
27. IV. Voyage à Paris [0:53]
28. V. Sanglots [4:22]
Metamorphoses (1943)
29. I. Reine des Mouettes [0:53]
30. II. C’est ainsi que tu es [2:15]
31. III. Paganini [0:57]
32. Voyages (1948) [2:58]
33. La Souris (1956) [0:52]
34. La Dame de Monte-Carlo (1961)
Felicity Lott (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
rec. February 1994, Rosslyn Hill Chapel, London
Sung texts enclosed but no translations
FORLANE FOR16730 [64:26]

Experience Classicsonline



On 13 January 1993 Felicity Lott sang this Poulenc programme at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the deaths of Jean Cocteau and Francis Poulenc. A little more than a year later she recorded the same programme in London and it is a worthy tribute to Poulenc. First and foremost it spans his entire career as a writer of mélodies, from Le Bestiaire, composed when he was still a teenager, to the Cocteau setting La Dame de Monte-Carlo, which stems from 1961 and is one of Poulenc’s very last works, not exactly a song but a scene for voice and orchestra. It has the lilt of a cabaret song, a genre that Poulenc touched more than once, as did his predecessor Satie.

Presenting the songs in chronological order is a sensible idea, since it demonstrates the composer’s development ... or, is there a noticeable development? Le Bestiaire contains six delightful portraits of some odd members of the fauna, youthful and unpredictable, and that’s exactly how I would describe Poulenc’s music from any chosen period of the four-and-a-half decades that his activities as composer encompass. With hindsight it might be possible to feel that Cocardes from a year later is more advanced, more mature. But then we should also bear in mind that Apollinaire and Cocteau, the respective poets, were also different personalities. It may not be correct to say that Cocteau was the ‘deeper’ of the two but Apollinaire, back in 1911, when Le Bestiaire ou Cortège d’Orphée was written, had a ruffianly attitude that attracted Poulenc. The poet was at the time of writing only fractionally older than Poulenc was when setting the poems, at which time Apollinaire was probably already mortally ill. There is a certain confusion concerning the year of composition. The back cover as well as the notes to this issue say 1918; other sources give 1917 and I’ve seen both 1919 and 1920, possibly as the year(s) of publication. This may be an issue of purely academic interest but if someone who has deeper knowledge could clarify this matter I would be grateful.

When we meet Poulenc in the 1930s it is definitely the master who has come to terms with the art of writing personal and communicative mélodies to challenge predecessors like Fauré, Duparc, Debussy and Ravel. The piano part has become more expressive and there is an organic connection between poem and music. It is also notable that when he temporarily abandons contemporary poetry and sets 16th century ‘prince of poets’ Pierre de Ronsard’s A sa guitare, he creates one of his masterpieces. Were it not for the piano accompaniment the song could have been written at almost any time between, say, late 16th century and the present day. Timeless is a hackneyed word but I find no substitute for it in my thesaurus.

The year is 1935. Two years later the cycle Tel jour telle nuit (Paul Eluard) shows the same mastery. This is arguably Poulenc at his very best, showing his versatility, his lyric side as well as his more burlesque inclinations.

Eluard is also the originator of Tu vois le feu du soir, certainly one of the most beautiful French songs of all times. The year is 1938 and dark clouds loom over the horizon to the east. In two years’ time the war is there and the Nazi occupants invade France. In the midst of turmoil and despair Poulenc returns to Apollinaire and Banalités. There is a hint of the ruffian of twenty years earlier but the shadows are longer and darker ... Lighter moods are to be found in the three Metamorphoses from 1943, where No. II, C’est ainsi que tu es is a song of immense beauty, while No. 3, swift and virtuosic, is a nice portrait of Paganini.

The war over he sets again Apollinaire in 1948, Voyages. The composer is not yet 50 but here the gamin is far away; this is a man who has passed the zenith of his powers. We know that several great works were still to come, but he seems to have started count-down. Beautiful but sad, as is La souris from 1956 and the concluding La dame de Monte-Carlo, in spite of some cabaret references, is enveloped in dark veils.

This recital would be recommendable for the programme and the opportunity to follow Poulenc’s career as a composer of Mélodies during forty years, whoever the singer was. As it happens it is Felicity Lott. I can’t imagine a better interpreter of these songs.

Opera lovers know her as one of the greatest Mozart and Richard Strauss interpreters; her Feldmarschallin in Der Rosenkavalier at the Vienna State Opera in the mid-1990s is a memory for life. But her command of French is marvellous and seeing and hearing her La belle Hélène on DVD (review in the pipeline) one can’t imagine that she isn’t a native. That is also the impression one gets from the first bars until the end of this wonderful recital. Without exaggerated word-painting and over-emphasis she manages to make the poems tell; her declamation marvellously expressive and alive. But what makes this disc stand out even more is the sheer beauty of her singing. Listen to A sa guitare (tr. 13) where her sensitive floated pianissimo singing is absolutely magical. Tu vois le feu du soir (tr. 23) is another song one should avoid listening to if one has decided not to buy this disc. It is hard to imagine more beautiful singing. And these are only two isolated examples. With her long-time piano partner Graham Johnson playing as sensitively as ever and a perfectly balanced recording that further enhances the experience, it is well-nigh criminal not to buy this disc. The only drawback is that there are no translations, which will be a disadvantage to listeners with limited knowledge of French.

There have been other important interpreters of Poulenc, most notably Pierre Bernac, who worked with Poulenc from 1926 until his retirement around 1960. On Testament there is a 3-CD box with Bernac, singing a lot of other composers as well, even including a complete Dichterliebe. There are 30 Poulenc songs, an interview with Bernac by Graham Johnson and the half-hour-long L’Histoire de Babar, narrated by Bernac with Johnson at the piano. Closer in time there is a 4-CD box on EMI, claiming to be the complete Poulenc songs with Elly Ameling, Nicolai Gedda, Michel Senéchal and Gerard Souzay. The real enthusiasts will need both these boxes but even they can’t afford to be without Felicity Lott and Graham Johnson.

Göran Forsling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools






Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.