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Encounters with Poulenc,
by BASIL RAMSEY


Naxos    8.553614

Poulenc Complete Chamber Music Volume 4 (c) 2000 HNH International Ltd

 

With just one ear and a pea brain we could not but realise that Poulenc has a light, and often deliciously wicked, view of music to confound any feeling of gloom. Solemnity may be found in the occasional measured tread, but does not brand him a dullard. He's the quick-change artist capable of startling us all.

We have here the fourth disc of a complete survey of his chamber music, so this disparate volume includes the horn and piano Elégie and the Sarabande for guitar, both rewarding excursions observing Poulenc discovering and responding with fascinating music. Le Bal masqué as an 18 minute cantata for baritone and chamber orchestra bursts upon the scene with Poulenc's idiomatic splash and riotuosly mixes high spirits with his own combustible nature. Earlyish works, Rapsodie nègre, Cocardes  and Le Bestiaire put a perspective on his long career. Poulenc had such acute feelings -- the sad and the reverse -- and always composed with intensity. His music never appears to travel incognito, or even cautiously. With Poulenc you always travel alongside or fall at the first hurdle.

 

Copyright © 22 August 2001 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK

 

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