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Poulenc: Le Bal Masqué, Etc / Rogé, Dutoit


Release Date: 05/25/1999 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 452666   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Francis Poulenc
Performer:  François Le RouxPascal RogéDominique VisseLambert Wilson
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Orchestra Soloists
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length:  1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

A disc that fans of the early gamin Poulenc will fall on with cries of joy. He was always happiest when writing for voice and piano, and here we have a splendid collection, including some rarities, in captivating performances. The biggest surprise is probably the four poems by Max Jacob, here recorded for the first time: it was thought that Poulenc had discarded them, but four years ago Milhaud’s widow found the manuscript among the papers of her husband, who had conducted the first performance. The surprise is not this reappearance but Poulenc’s musical language: while the second and fourth poems are set in his familiar frolicsome madcap style, the other two, largely atonal, reveal that in 1921 he had been toying with Schoenbergian ideas. Read more The other near novelty (its first modern recording) is the “playlet interspersed with songs” Le gendarme incompris, a farce about a marquise cross-dressed as a priest who is arrested by a periphrastic gendarme and brought before an easily corruptible police chief. I recommend this enthusiastically even to those who don’t understand much French, since Le Roux (as the police chief) and Visse (as the indignant marquise) prove to be as brilliant as actors as they are as singers. The whole piece is wildly hilarious (quite apart from the literary joke of cocking a snook at Mallarme and Verlaine).

On rather more familiar ground Le Roux, as usual, shines with his subtle sense of style – Poulenc insisted that even his most frivolous pieces should be treated au grand serieux – and his exemplary enunciation. Pascal Roge sparkles in the “Intermede” of the impudent Bal masque (as does a solo violinist in its “Bagatelle”), performed with zest by all, and equally gambols in the “Ronde” of that blague, Poulenc’s first work to be publicly performed, the Rapsodie negre (here presented in its original 1917 version). On the other hand, the popular Mouvements perpetuels are given in a later instrumentation, possibly by another hand than Poulenc’s own. Le Roux’s versatility is again demonstrated in the circus/fairground atmosphere of the Cocardes and the epigrammatic Bestiaire (I love the way he evokes the melancholy longevity of the carp).

The excellent soloists from the French National Orchestra are recorded with great clarity; and James Harding, braving Jacob’s and Cocteau’s minefield of puns, Joycean wordplay and surrealist juxtapositions, provides spirited translations (except of the gibberish Rapsodie negre); but why render “dromadaire” as “camel”?

-- Lionel Salter, Gramophone [3/1997]
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Works on This Recording

1. Le bestiaire by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  François Le Roux (Baritone)
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Orchestra Soloists
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 1995 
Venue:  Salle Wagram, Paris 
2. Rapsodie nègre by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  François Le Roux (Baritone), Pascal Rogé (Piano)
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Orchestra Soloists
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1917; France 
Date of Recording: 1995 
Venue:  Salle Wagram, Paris 
3. Cocardes by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  François Le Roux (Baritone)
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Orchestra Soloists
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919; France 
Date of Recording: 1995 
Venue:  Salle Wagram, Paris 
4. Poems (4) of Max Jacob by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  François Le Roux (Baritone)
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Orchestra Soloists
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922; USA 
Date of Recording: 1995 
Venue:  Salle Wagram, Paris 
5. Mouvements perpétuels (3) by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Pascal Rogé (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918; France 
6. Le bal masqué by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Pascal Rogé (Piano), François Le Roux (Baritone)
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Orchestra Soloists
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932; France 
7. Le gendarme incompris by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  François Le Roux (Baritone), Dominique Visse (Alto), Lambert Wilson (Narrator)
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Orchestra Soloists
Period: 20th Century 

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