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Wydawnictwo: Lawo Classics
Nr katalogowy: LWC 1173
Nośnik: 1 CD
Data wydania: czerwiec 2019
EAN: 7090020181950
57,00zł
na zamówienie
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Nasze kategorie wyszukiwania

Epoka muzyczna: 20 wiek do 1960
Obszar (język): francuski
Instrumenty: fortepian, organy
Rodzaj: koncert

Poulenc: Concertos

Lawo Classics - LWC 1173
Wykonawcy
Christian Ihle Hadland, piano
Havard Gimse, piano
Kare Nordstoga, organ
Norwegian Radio Orchestra / Peter Szilvay, Thomas Sondergard
Nagrody i rekomendacje
 
ICMA Award Nomination
 
Concerto pour piano et orchestre
Concerto en ré mineur pour deux pianos et orchestre
Concerto en sol mineur pour orgue, orchestre a cordes et timbales
Francis Poulenc (1899–1963) is not an easy composer to relate to. Not the man himself perhaps – though possibly that too – but his music. It is somehow dated. Here is a composer who produced his best works, all more or less completely tonal, at a time when Arnold Schoenberg was writing twelve-tone music and Poulenc’s countrymen Oliver Messiaen (1908–1992) and Pierre Boulez (1925–2016) were into innovative rhythms, scales and techniques to lift the music out of the realm of subjective emotionalism. One of Poulenc’s most splendid works, Gloria, from 1959, was composed two years after Boulez’s third piano sonata. The two works have nothing in common other than that they both consist of notes and belong to what is called the European music tradition. What’s more, I am reasonably certain that Gloria has many more listeners than the third piano sonata of Boulez, quite simply because this melodious choral work is more accessible.

And accessible was what Poulenc wanted to be. One composer he looked to as a source of inspiration was Stravinsky, especially his neoclassical works from the 1920s. Here we are talking about pieces such as Pulcinella and The Fairy’s Kiss, as well as his Octet for Wind Instruments. Poulenc has been quoted as saying that if not for Stravinsky, he might not have been a composer at all. An exaggeration to be sure, but the similarities are apparent. Both can be called neoclassicists in the sense that they adopted baroque and classical forms with clear linearity in the melody and a lucid form with an underlying tonality. But Stravinsky composed his neoclassical works in quotation marks, as the Danish music critic Hansgeorg Lenz put it. By this he meant that Stravinsky was, stylistically speaking, extremely self-assured. He played with his forms and shunned personal expression, even though we hear it is Stravinsky, no matter which compositional mask he dons. In one way or another, Poulenc is there too, but only in part. Both break with the pathos of Romantic music, with its fervor and self-expression. Yet, while Stravinsky’s style is the manifestation of a strong will i.e. he laid bare the distance between the forms he used and the actual sound of the compositions this distance is more difficult to discern in Poulenc. He composed largely without a mask, without distance. He became a kind of prophet of immediacy. In a way he simply wished to entertain, and now and then to shock, something most composers wanted to do in 1920s Paris. And he was at this time also one of a group of young composers known collectively as “Les Six”, for whom the French poet, filmmaker and playwright Jean Cocteau (1889–1963) was something of an ideologue and Erik Satie (1866–1925) a kind of father figure. In his book Le Coq et l’Arlequin (1918), Cocteau criticizes, among other things, the melancholy of German music (Beethoven, Wagner) and asserts that the plain and simple is concentrated complexity, i.e. depth. This fits much of Poulenc’s music with its distinct melodies, formal clarity, and not so very complicated harmonies. Poulenc emphasized that he was not a harmonic innovator; neither was he, as he said, afraid to “use other people’s chords.” This clarity of form and expression can also be found in a number of the choral works, written after Poulenc had converted back to Catholicism in the mid-1930s. Here, for example, I am thinking of the Mass in G Major (1937), Figure humaine (1943) and Stabat Mater (1950). To these can be added his operatic masterpiece, Dialogues des carmélites (1956). These are works that engage us at a deeper level than his instrumental pieces, which are often much more garrulous and concertizing. Something revealed, to a great degree, on this release.

If we include Aubade (1929) for piano and eighteen instruments, Poulenc can be said to have composed five concertos. If, however, we ignore the aforementioned Aubade, and, likewise, Concert campetre (1928) for harpsichord and orchestra, those that are left can be found on this album. Among them, the Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani (1938) is considered to be the most popular of the three, and, perhaps, the most serious. It has different qualities from, for example, the piano concerto. As the composer himself joked, it showed “a Poulenc on his way to joining a monastery.” Is it perhaps a kind of Te Deum without text? In any case, Poulenc counted it among his religious works, and regarded it as one of the most important. And because he wanted to use the organ for all it was worth, he listened to many organists in Paris, especially Marcel Dupré. Poulenc’s concerto was premiered by another authority within the French organ school, Maurice Duruflé, who also helped Poulenc with the registration. For Poulenc wanted musical punch and nuance from this instrument, which is an orchestra unto itself. At the same time, he broke with the classical three-movement structure of the other two concertos on this album. The organ concerto is divided into seven parts, which blend into each other. In that respect, it resembles the multi-movement Aubade, but with more baroque associations. Music historian Paul Griffiths wonders whether the gravity of the organ concerto is explored as a possible mode of expression, or whether the seriousness is genuinely intended. Difficult to say, of course, but is it perhaps precisely this ambivalence that gives the work its strength? There are some slow passages here, more meditative, with elements of chromaticism, while others, such as the “main theme” itself, Allegro giocoso, are much more expressive and virtuosic. The concerto achieves this effect of doubleness through its brilliant, concertizing form.

Recordings: NRK Radio Concert Hall, Oslo, 23-25 January 2012 (Tr. 1-3), 27-28 January 2011 (Tr. 4-6); Oslo Cathedral, 13 October 2012 (Tr. 7).

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