A new disc from either Pascal Rogé or Charles Dutoit is almost always a guarantee of consummate musicianship. This release is certainly no exception. Their talents combine in Concert champêtre to create a sparkling performance which immediately claims first place in my affections. The expected gaiety and high spirits are present in plentiful supply but there are also darker hues which lurk in the background without any danger of ruining the fun.
The account of Concert champêtre is illustrative of the remainder of the programme. The orchestral exuberance of the Sinfonietta at the start of the disc is balanced by the starker, though far from subdued, Suite française for winds, percussion and harpsichord. The rendition of the latter is particularly welcome for its exploitation of genuine French wind timbres and the French National Orchestra is excellent throughout. Despite being recorded over more than two years, there is an integrity to the performances, aided by an inspired choice of works which includes several rarities anda number of interlocking themes. Furthermore, for those who feel (with some justification) that Poulenc composed more often than he received inspiration, the works on this disc are notable for their variety of invention. Recommended. Christopher Dingle