Poulenc wears his Parisian sexuality out and proud

The first Lebrecht Album of the Week for 2020:

No happier way to start a year than Francis Poulenc, few grimmer than Charles Koechlin. This album opens with the little-played Poulenc Sinfonietta, originally intended as a string quartet and allegedly thrown in a Paris gutter when it did not work out. …

Read on here.

And here.

The pianist is Artur Pizzaro.

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  • I could not understand why Wagner would have been Koechlin if born half a century later in France (a country he hated). I do not like Wagner as a person, but I have to acknowledge his achievements as a composer of stage works as far above every other composer with the exception of Mozart. One of the greatest geniuses who ever lived, but an appalling person.

  • Perhaps you might mention Artur Pizarro’s piano contribution in the review , I take it your 5 star rating for the Poulenc includes his playing ?!

    • Ravel recommended him as an orchestrator. One Nordic composer, impressed by Ravel’s orchestral scores, approached him and wanted to become his student, but Ravel told him to go to Koechlin: he already knew everything.

  • The Poulenc Piano Concerto is certainly cute, but it’s fluff at best and deserving of obscurity. True, Boston critics didn’t think much of it, and neither did New York critics when he played it here. However, the conductor Andre Kostelanetz was fond of it, and he led it twice in New York during the 1960’s, with pianists Grant Johansen and Ozan Marsh, but then it vanished from American concert halls.

    • The odd thing about Poulenc is that so much of his music consists of phrases which stop before the next is taken-on, like a multi-stylistic mosaic. You can only assess the whole when standing back, as with a mosaic.

  • The most ludicrously cloth-eared dismissal of Koechlin I’ve read anywhere! Given that he numbered Poulenc amongst his pupils (Cole Porter was another such), the pairing is very apt.

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