Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)

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012006062620060703

Donald Macleod steps into the heady atmosphere of Paris in the early 20th Century - a melting pot of ideas which Poulenc embraced as a young man.

Voyage à Paris

Felicity Lott (soprano)

Graham Johnson (piano)

Mouvements Perpétuels

Eric Parkin (piano)

Sonata for two clarinets

Richard Hosford, Michael Harris (clarinet)

Suite from the Ballet: Les Animaux modèles, FP111

National Orchestra of France

Charles Dutoit (conductor)

Miel de Narbonne (Cocardes)

Francois le Roux (baritone)

Soloists from the French National Orchestra of France

Concerto for two pianos (first movement)

Eric le Sage, Frank Braley (pianos)

Liège Philharmonic Orchestra

Stéphane Denève (conductor)

0120120611

Donald Macleod introduces Poulenc's scandalous breakthrough musical successes of the 1920s

Francis Poulenc wrote some of the warmest, most immediately appealing music of the 20th century - music that's adored by the general concert-going public for its easy French charm and witty zest. Yet even his biographer admits that he could be "rich, spoilt and glib" - the latter a criticism that's often made by the musical establishment about his music, which remained happily tuneful and apparently uncomplicated throughout his whole career, even among the avant-garde experiments of modernists in the 1960s.

This week, Donald Macleod explores Poulenc's unique musical voice - and sometimes troublesome character - whilst showcasing a blend of much-loved favourites and rare works.

Chamber and orchestral works thread through the week, with Wednesday's episode devoted to the genre which provided Poulenc perhaps his greatest medium: the solo song. By contrast, Thursday's episode gives us a rare complete performance of one of Poulenc's most original and charming works: his setting of the story of Babar, the little elephant, for narrator and orchestra - a delightful French counterpart to Prokofiev's "Peter and The Wolf" or Britten's "Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra". The week ends with a rare complete performance of Poulenc's choral work, "Sept Repons De Tenebres", and two beautiful late wind sonatas.

In today's first episode, Donald Macleod introduces Poulenc's scandalous musical successes of the 1920s.

01Poulenc And The Piano20150720

Donald Macleod focuses on Poulenc's friendship with the pianist Ricardo Viñes.

Poulenc was both sociable and well connected. His many friends included one of the most influential pianists of the day, Ricardo Viñes.

Poulenc could claim many of the leading performers, artists and patrons of the day among his circle of friends. This week Donald Macleod looks at some of the more significant of those friendships and explores how these associations led to artistic collaborations. Donald focuses first on Poulenc's relationship with pianist Ricardo Viñes, followed by harpsichordist Wanda Landowska, poet Paul Éluard and singers baritone Pierre Bernac and soprano Denise Duval.

Poulenc always thought of himself as a product of the prevailing artistic climate of Paris. Born in 1899, he grew up in cultured and comfortable surroundings. His father and two uncles ran a company manufacturing high quality industrial chemicals, while his mother was an accomplished amateur musician who gave the young Poulenc his first piano lessons. The Poulenc's were keen supporters of the arts, frequently attending concerts and the Opera. However, Poulenc did not follow the orthodox route of musical training by attending either the Paris Conservatoire or the Schola Cantorum. This meant that his artistic associations were formed initially through social connections. Viñes was a crucial figure in Poulenc's development as an artist, providing him with vital entrées to Paris's musical circles. This brought Poulenc into contact with artists, writers and most importantly other musicians and composers, a pattern that would continue right across Poulenc's life until his unexpected death in 1963.

Today Donald Macleod considers Poulenc's artistic collaboration with the pianist Ricardo Viñes. When they met Viñes was already a leading figure in Paris, with a reputation for supporting young artists and premiering their work at his concerts. Poulenc took piano lessons from him for three years but beyond that Viñes introduced Poulenc to many useful contacts within the artistic community and premiered his piano works. Poulenc would later acknowledge that meeting Viñes "was a turning point in my life: I owe him everything.".

0220120612

Donald explores Poulenc's wild social life and religious awakening in the 1930s.

Donald Macleod explores Poulenc's wild social life and religious awakening in the 1930s. Plus, the composer's response to the storm clouds gathering over Europe, as France prepares for war.

Two contrasting works dominate the programme: his delightful, neo-classical "Concert Champetre" or "rustic concerto" for harpsichord and orchestra, and the plangent Mass in G.

02Poulenc And The Harpsichord20150721

Donald Macleod discusses Poulenc's collaboration with the harpsichordist Wanda Landowska.

Poulenc's collaboration with the harpsichordist Wanda Landowska leads to several important large-scale commissions.

Poulenc could claim many of the leading performers, artists and patrons of the day among his circle of friends. This week Donald Macleod looks at some of the more significant of those friendships and explores how these associations led to artistic collaborations, starting with one of the earliest, with pianist Ricardo Viñes, followed by harpsichordist Wanda Landowska, poet Paul Éluard and singers baritone Pierre Bernac and soprano Denise Duval.

Poulenc always thought of himself as a product of the prevailing artistic climate of Paris. Born in 1899, he grew up in cultured and comfortable surroundings. His father and two uncles ran a company manufacturing high quality industrial chemicals, while his mother was an accomplished amateur musician, who gave the young Poulenc his first piano lessons.

Poulenc's first encounter with the harpsichordist Wanda Landowska was at the house of the Princesse de Polignac, one of the most influential patronesses of the day. There and then, Landowska charged the young Poulenc with writing her a concerto. It was the start of a series of concertos, and a life-time friendship between them. Meeting her, Poulenc said was, "a capital event in my career".

02Poulenc's Poets20060627

Poulenc was a familiar figure in Parisian literary circles.

Donald Macleod looks at how this circumstance encouraged Poulenc to write some 150 art songs.

Le Bestiaire

Jean-Christophe Benoit (baritone)

Maryse Charpentier (piano)

Soloists from the Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire

Georges Prêtre (conductor)

Excerpt from Act 1 of Les Mamelles de Tirésias

Graham Clark (tenor)

Mark Oswald (baritone)

Barbara Bonney (soprano)

Jean-Paul Fouchécourt (tenor)

Tokyo Opera Singers

Saito Kinen Orchestra

Seiji Ozawa (conductor)

Metamorphoses

Catherine Dubosc (soprano)

Pascal Rogé (piano)

Figure humaine

Accentus Chamber Choir

Laurence Equilbey (director)

4 poemès de Max Jacob

Francois le Roux (baritone)

Soloists from the National Orchestra of France

Charles Dutoit (conductor)

Tu vois le feu du soir (Miroirs brulants)

Felicity Lott (soprano)

Graham Johnson (piano).

0320120613

Donald Macleod presents a celebration of Poulenc's life as a song composer.

Poulenc is regarded as perhaps the greatest French song composer of the 20th century. In today's episode, Donald Macleod takes us through more than four decades of brilliant, original art songs: from an early musical bestiary to the bawdy "Chansons Gaillardes" - and on through two contrasting sets of songs of wartime, to his last major vocal work: a dazzling eight-minute scena for soprano and orchestra. At the centre of the episode is perhaps Francis Poulenc's greatest set of songs: the sublime "Tel Jour, Telle Nuit".

03Poulenc's Art20060628

Poulenc was acquainted with many of the leading painters of the day - including Picasso, Derain and Jacques-Emile Blanche, and to a lesser extent Salvador Dali.

Donald Macleod examines how the visual arts became a source of inspiration to Poulenc both directly and indirectly in his music.

La Grenouillère

Gabriel Bacquier (baritone)

Jacques Fevrier (piano)

Jacques Villon (Le Travail du Peintre)

Nathalie Stutzmann (contralto)

Inger Södergren (piano)

Sextet for piano and wind instruments

Pascal Rogé (piano)

Patrick Gallois (flute)

Maurice Bourgue (oboe)

Michel Portal (clarinet)

Amaury Wallez (bassoon)

André Cazalet (horn)

Concerto in Gm for Organ, String Orchestra and Timpani

Maurice Duruflé (organ)

French National Radio Orchestra

Georges Pretre

Bleuet

Antony Rolfe Johnson (tenor)

Graham Johnson (piano).

03Poulenc's Poetic Voice20150722

Donald Macleod explores Poulenc's artistic association with poet Paul Eluard.

Poulenc's affinity with poetry began with Apollinaire and lead to an artistic association with poet Paul Éluard.

Poulenc could claim many of the leading performers, artists and patrons of the day among his circle of friends. This week Donald Macleod looks at some of the more significant of those friendships and explores how these associations led on to artistic collaborations.

Poulenc always thought of himself as a product of the prevailing artistic climate of Paris. Born in 1899, he grew up in cultured and comfortable surroundings. His father and two uncles ran a company manufacturing high quality industrial chemicals, while his mother was an accomplished amateur musician, who gave the young Poulenc his first piano lessons. However, Poulenc did not follow the orthodox route of musical training by attending either the Paris Conservatoire or the Schola Cantorum. His artistic associations often came about through his social connections.

In today's episode Donald Macleod considers Poulenc's admiration for the poetry of Guillaume Apollinaire and Paul Éluard. Poulenc became close friends with Éluard, regarding him as a "spiritual brother". Over some twenty odd years, Poulenc set over thirty of Éluard's poems to music.

0420120614

Donald Macleod introduces Poulenc's musical response to World War Two.

Critics have often criticised Poulenc's response to the horrors of World War Two - relatively wealthy and in possession of a well-appointed country house, after his national service he was able to largely escape the traumas of the conflict and continue his social life. Yet the war did affect him deeply musically.

Donald Macleod introduces four very different wartime compositions: a plangent motet, a furious violin sonata, a sneaky act of musical resistance aimed at ignorant German soldiers in the audience at the Paris Opera...and perhaps Poulenc's most charming and characteristic work: his setting of Jean de Brunhoff's "Babar The Elephant" for narrator and orchestra.

04A Performing Duo20150723

Donald Macleod focuses on Poulenc's performing partnership with baritone Pierre Bernac.

Poulenc's most famous performing partnership with baritone Pierre Bernac, an acclaimed interpreter of his music.

Poulenc could claim many of the leading performers, artists and patrons of the day among his circle of friends. This week Donald Macleod looks at some of the more significant of those friendships and explores how these associations led to artistic collaborations, starting with one of the earliest, with pianist Ricardo Viñes, followed by harpsichordist Wanda Landowska, poet Paul Éluard and singers baritone Pierre Bernac and soprano Denise Duval.

Poulenc always thought of himself as a product of the prevailing artistic climate of Paris. Born in 1899, he grew up in cultured and comfortable surroundings. His father and two uncles ran a company manufacturing high quality industrial chemicals, while his mother was an accomplished amateur musician, who gave the young Poulenc his first piano lessons. However, Poulenc did not follow the orthodox route of musical training by attending either the Paris Conservatoire or the Schola Cantorum. His artistic associations often came about through his social connections.

Today Donald Macleod looks at Poulenc's longest running performing partnership, with the French baritone Pierre Bernac. Their professional association lasted for twenty-five years, until Bernac's retirement. Bernac became a respected authority on interpreting Poulenc's songs and Poulenc both trusted and relied on Bernac's judgement.

04Performing Partnerships *20060629

Poulenc was a successful pianist who partnered several singers during his performing career.

His longest serving collaborator was French baritone Pierre Bernac, but the roll call of artists he worked with includes several other notable singers.

Le Lac (8 Polish Songs)

Nicolai Gedda (tenor)

Dalton Baldwin (piano)

Tel jour, telle nuit

Francois le Roux (baritone)

Pascal Rogé (piano)

Les mamelles de Tirésias

Barbara Bonney (soprano)

Jean Paul Fouchécourt (tenor)

Tokyo Opera singers

Saito Kinen Orchestra

Seiji Ozawa (conductor)

Excerpt from Act 2, Les dialogues des Carmelites

Catherine Dubosc (soprano)

Jean Luc Viala (tenor)

Lyon Opera Orchestra

Kent Nagano (conductor)

Excerpt from La voix humaine

Felicity Lott (soprano)

Suisse Romande Orchestra

Armin Jordan (conductor)

Pablo Picasso (Le travail du peintre)

Pierre Bernac (baritone)

Francis Poulenc (piano).

05Poulenc's Soprano20150724

Donald Macleod explores Poulenc's performing partnership with soprano Denise Duval.

Poulenc's performing partnership with soprano Denise Duval, for whom he created the role of Blanche in Les dialogues des Carmélites.

Poulenc could claim many of the leading performers, artists and patrons of the day among his circle of friends. This week Donald Macleod looks at some of the more significant of those friendships and explores how these associations led to artistic collaborations, starting with one of the earliest, with pianist Ricardo Viñes, followed by harpsichordist Wanda Landowska, poet Paul Éluard and singers baritone Pierre Bernac and soprano Denise Duval.

Poulenc always thought of himself as a product of the prevailing artistic climate of Paris. Born in 1899, he grew up in cultured and comfortable surroundings. His father and two uncles ran a company manufacturing high quality industrial chemicals, while his mother was an accomplished amateur musician, who gave the young Poulenc his first piano lessons. However, Poulenc did not follow the orthodox route of musical training by attending either the Paris Conservatoire or the Schola Cantorum. His artistic associations often came about through his social connections.

In the final part of his survey Donald Macleod looks at the artistic collaboration Poulenc enjoyed with the soprano Denise Duval. As well as touring with Poulenc giving recitals, Duval created the solo roles in La voix humaine and La dame de Monte-Carlo and it was for Duval's voice that Poulenc made the role of Blanche de la Force in Les dialogues des Carmélites.

05 LAST20120615

Donald Macleod introduces three of Poulenc's valedictory late works.

Donald Macleod introduces three of Poulenc's valedictory late works, including a rare complete performance of his "Sept Repons Des Tenebres" for choir and orchestra.

05 LASTThe Face Behind The Music20060630

Poulenc's music illustrates the contradictory forces of a colourful and eclectic character.

He drew on a wide range of formative influences, which Donald Macleod considers.

Hotel

Felicity Lott (soprano)

Graham Johnson (piano)

4 motets for a time of penitence

Accentus Chamber Choir

Laurence Equilbey (director)

Sonata for flute and piano

Patrick Gallois (flute)

Pascal Rogé (piano)

Le bal masqué

José van Dam (baritone)

Peter Csaba (violin)

Hervé Derrien (cello)

Ruth Vissier (oboe)

Jean-Michel Bertelli (clarinet)

Carlo Colombo (bassoon)

Pascal Savignon (cornet)

Eric Sammut (drum)

Alain Planès (piano).