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CD Spotlight

Pleasing Throughout

Poulenc ballet suites
for piano -
heard by

'... clearly at ease with Poulenc's soft-core tonality ...'

Poulenc: Ballet Suites: Les Biches; Les Animaux modèles; Aubade. Jean-Pierre Armengaud, piano. © 2014 Naxos Rights US Inc

This programme brings together premiere recordings including Francis Poulenc's own piano versions of his 'ballet of atmosphere' Les Biches and 'choreographic concerto' Aubade, as well as the first digital recording of the suite from Les Animaux modèles, inspired by the fables of La Fontaine and compiled by American pianist Grant Johannesen (1921-2005) with the composer's agreement.

'Piano scores' are an essential part of rehearsing and choreographing any ballet, but the piano was also indispensable to Poulenc's compositional process. He owed his love of classical dance to years of working closely with Diaghilev, and his music brims with subtlety, humour, genuine emotion, pungent harmonies and rhythmic lightness.

In a mood of unworthy self abnegation 1942 he confessed to French ethnomusicologist André Schaeffner: 'I know very well that I am not an innovative musician like Stravinsky, Debussy or Ravel, but I think there's a place for new music that is happy to use the chords created by others.'

Copyright © 4 February 2015 Howard Smith,
Masterton, New Zealand






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