After a successful cycle of Chopin works for solo piano, exclusive Chandos artist Louis Lortie plays here works by Poulenc with his duet partner Hélène Mercier. In Aubade and the two concertos they are joined by Edward Gardner and the BBC Philharmonic.
Quelle mouche teutonne a donc piqué Emmanuel Chabrier ? En novembre 1880, à son retour d’un Tristan et Isolde à Munich, cet enragé du wagnérisme (comme ses amis Vincent d’Indy, Charles Lamoureux, Stéphane Mallarmé, etc.) démissionne de son emploi au Ministère de l’Intérieur et ne veut plus être que compositeur.
Brought up in the Roman Catholic faith, which he abandoned in 1917 following the death of his father, Poulenc returned to the Church in 1936 after the death of his close friend and fellow composer Pierre-Octave Ferroud. Together these events caused a spiritual crisis in Poulenc’s life which led to a series of important compositions for chorus. The powerful Mass in G major, dedicated to the memory of his father, is notable for its daring use of tonality, though the playfulness of Poulenc’s ‘Les Six’ period is not absent. In the Sept Chansons, set to surrealist texts, and in the two sets of Motets - both very personal and penitential - Poulenc generates a huge range of emotion.
The Poulenc Violin Sonata is still a relative rarity on record. I'm baffled by this, as it is one of Poulenc's most unique and musically rewarding works. This performance by Lin and Crossley is excellent; indeed they nearly match the superlative recording made by Kolja Blacher and Eric Le Sage for RCA. The brighter, more lively RCA recording adds a little extra sparkle and energy to the latter. However, in both instances, each violinist has the benefit of being joined by pianists who have made a specialty of Poulenc.
This collection of the complete chamber music of Poulenc shows the varying styles that he employed. From the jazzy, bitonal passages of the Sonata for Clarinet and Bassoon and the Sonata for Horn, Trumpet and Trombone which has been described as 'Pergolesi with his wig awry' (Roger Nichols, Grove) to the profound beauty of his last three sonatas for wind. All are extremely accessible. The Nash Ensemble gave a series of concerts of Poulenc's music at the Wigmore Hall earlier this year to great critical acclaim and Hyperion are delighted to be able to present this wonderful collection on this, Poulenc's centenary year.
Francis Poulenc's songs are among the most beautiful and accomplished in the entire French repertoire. A friend of poets like Apollinaire, Eluard, Aragon and Louise de Vilmorin, he was constantly alert to their imaginative worlds and their mystery. The voluptuous or nostalgic nonchalance, the gentle melancholy or the impertinent flippancy of these works never appear to take themselves seriously, and invariably represent the highest art. On this recording, the renowned Belgian soprano Sophie Karthauser returns to harmonia mundi for her first recital program, performing a generous selection of Poulenc's Melodies.