Poulenc: The Complete Songs of Poulenc, Vol. 2

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LABELS: Signum
WORKS: Tel jour telle nuit; La travail du peintre; Toréador; Deux Poèmes de Guillaume Apollinaire; Trois chansons de Frederico Garcia-Lorca; Hymne; Trois poèmes de Louise Lallane; Deux poèmes de Louis Aragon; Les chemins de l’amour etc
PERFORMER: Lorna Anderson, Felicity Lott, Lisa Milne (soprano), Robert Murray (tenor), Christopher Maltman (baritone), Jonathan Lemalu (bass-baritone); Malcolm Martineau (piano)

Good news if you’ve been enjoying summer to the sounds of volume one of the complete Poulenc songs – the next is here already. These singers have come up with some of the most absorbing recorded experiences of a composer who, for all his unmistakable voice, had an extraordinarily broad range of expression and poetic choices. It is perhaps still not fully given its due that Poulenc responded to the impact of the Second World War with just about the most searching body of musical work that the conflict prokoved. And again a wartime song gives the CD its peak of intensity, this time about loss of place, as Lorna Anderson asserts the final ‘O ma France ô ma délaissée’ in Louis Aragon’s C.
Anderson’s finely nuanced and vivaciously delicate Lorca settings are another highlight. There are major Paul Eluard cycles, with Christopher Maltman extracting maximum contrast among the artists evoked by Le travail du peintre, and Felicity Lott returning to the many-faceted Tel jour telle nuit which has remained one of her most consummate interpretations. Elsewhere the songs are more disparate than in the first volume. Christopher Maltman makes what he can of Toréador, playing Cocteau’s rather dated text straight, if that’s the word. Jonathan Lemalu has two cameos, embodying solemnity and wry fun, and Lott rounds things off with her incomparable Les chemins de l’amour. Malcolm Martineau is the binding presence as he responds to both songs and singers with a transparent understanding of character. More soon, please. Robert Maycock