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Poulenc Francis (1899-1963)

Biography of Poulenc Francis:

The critic and scholar Claude Rostand famously described Poulenc as “half monk, half rogue” (“le moine et le voyou”), a description that captures the two sides of his nature, the witty and urbane author of the Chansons gaillardes and Les mamelles de Tirésias and the spiritual composer of deeply felt religious works, openly homosexual and devoutly catholic and prone to periods of high elation and deep depression.
He was born into a wealthy family and was able to gain entry to artistic and literary circles in Paris, achieving early success with Rapsodie nègre, dedicated to Erik Satie. His early music shows the influence of Stravinsky and its clarity of line and sometimes acidic harmony marked him, at the time, as a modernist, but the label never quite stuck and in later works he became more celebrated for his melodic style. In 1920, with Darius Milhaud, George Auric, Germaine Tailleferre, Louis Durey and Arthur Honneger, Poulenc was part of a group of composers christened, by the journalist Henri Collet, “Les Six” but although good friends they were very different aesthetically and their paths diverged in later life. Poulenc’s most enduring musical collaborations were as the pianist in duos with the baritone, Pierre Bernac, and subsequently with soprano, Denise Duval.
The earliest of the three works featured on this disc is Mélancolie from 1940. It has none of the acidic qualities of the early music, but is by turns intense and wistful. The two sonatas, for flute and oboe with piano, both date from the latter part of his life, the oboe sonata being the last piece Poulenc completed before his sudden death in January 1963. Both works maintain the traditional 3 movement sonata structure, but while the flute sonata has the typical fast, slow, fast movement order, this is reversed in the oboe sonata. Both pieces also introduce some cyclic procedures quoting and re-introducing elements of the opening movement in subsequent parts. The flute sonata, despite the allegretto malincolio title of the first movement maintains a light and airy, if slightly wistful character even in the central cantilena. By contrast, the oboe sonata has an aura of sadness, the harmony of the opening andante is bitter-sweet and the central scherzo is spiteful rather than jocular. The final déploration provides a suitably profound musical farewell.

CD's with Poulenc Francis
Canticum Novum

ArtNr. GMCD 7101

Christ Rising - Music for Holy Week & Easter

ArtNr. GMCD 7222

O Magnum Mysterium - Christmas Music and Corals

ArtNr. GMCD 7226

Masterworks for Organ, Orchestra & Percussion by Langlais, Poulenc, Helmschrott

ArtNr. GMCD 7240

Songs Without Words - Music for flute and harp

ArtNr. GMCD 7316

Following on - Music for flute, oboe and piano

ArtNr. GMCD 7344

Tongues of Fire - R?tti, Arensky, Poulenc

ArtNr. GMCD 7386

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