Poulenc: Les biches Suite; Les animaux modèles Suite; Aubade

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COMPOSERS: Poulenc
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Les biches Suite; Les animaux modèles Suite; Aubade
PERFORMER: Pascal Rogé (piano); French National Orchestra/Charles Dutoit
CATALOGUE NO: 452 937-2
For many people, the orchestral music contains the true Poulenc. It is not the full story, of course, as the various reassessments in this his centenary year will undoubtedly emphasise; but it is with works such as Les biches, the concertos for one and two pianos and for organ, that most people will have been introduced to the composer.

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This disc completes Rogé and Dutoit’s survey of Poulenc’s orchestral music for Decca and is also simultaneously released as part of a mid-price three-disc box including his two earlier issues (460 597-2). It also arrives simultaneously with EMI’s four-box Poulenc Edition offering some of the key Poulenc recordings of the last half century.

Dutoit is a little let down by the orchestral playing in the suite from Les biches; it doesn’t have quite the sparkle of the Philharmonia conducted by Georges Prêtre, whose performance of the complete ballet score (some 35 minutes as opposed to 20) is a highlight of the EMI box of orchestral works. Les animaux modèles is a hoot in both sets (Prêtre this time with the Paris Conservatoire Orchestra).

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Inevitably Dutoit’s is a disc tying up the loose ends in Poulenc’s output, mixing major works such as Aubade, in which Rogé is a scintillating soloist, with some miniatures and collaborative works that don’t often get heard. The latter include his contributions to L’éventail de Jeanne, Album des Six and Les mariés de la Tour Eiffel, which are the equal of the various performances on the EMIset, that also includes two discs of Poulenc’s religious choral music. Matthew Rye