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Poulenc: Gloria & Motets / Layton, Gritton, Polyphony, Et Al


Release Date: 03/11/2008 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67623   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Francis Poulenc
Conductor:  Stephen Layton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polyphony
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



Powerful music-making that gives the Gloria a vivid sense of unfettered joy

From the very outset of the Gloria it’s clear that this is a performance of real distinction. The gloriously pompous opening orchestral fanfare has a swagger and a self-satisfied strut which is one of those rare moments on disc where you would wish it were tracked separately so that you could just play it over and over again. But to do that would miss the scintillating choral entry, the basses starting the ball rolling with the kind of pent-up energy which you just know is going to explode in the most spectacular way. Other recordings – I think particularly of the Cambridge
Read more Singers (Collegium, 10/88R) – have a pleasant, smiley quality here; Stephen Layton’s crew has an almost piratical swagger, buoyantly breasting Poulenc’s turbulent waves of barely restrained exuberance.

The 38 voices of Polyphony are augmented by 31 from Trinity College, Cambridge, while an unusually hefty contingent of orchestral players makes up the Britten Sinfonia on the disc. What results is not only music-making of immense power and vibrancy – take the riveting declamation “Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris”, hardly subtle or even particularly refined (the men shout and the brass blares) but unbelievably spine-tingling – but also an ability, brilliantly directed by Layton, to capture Poulenc’s “half hooligan, half monk” musical persona (in Claude Rostand’s oft-quoted aphorism). Thus, in the final chorus of the Gloria, after the boisterous start, we have a moment of profound sanctity and another, crowned with incredible delicacy by Susan Gritton, of mouth-watering enchantment. I’d happily end my days on a desert island with this track alone.

Not everything is quite so enticing: Gritton wallows a little too much for my taste in the “Domine Deus”, mischievously abetted by Layton’s almost kitsch romanticism. But it is the vivid sense of unfettered joy in the Gloria and the matchless intensity of feeling revealed in the motets that make this such a gloriously distinguished disc.

-- Marc Rochester, Gramophone [4/2008]

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Works on This Recording

1. Gloria in G major by Francis Poulenc
Conductor:  Stephen Layton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polyphony
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959; France 
2. Salve Regina by Francis Poulenc
Conductor:  Stephen Layton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polyphony
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941; France 
3. Motets (4) pour le temps de Noël by Francis Poulenc
Conductor:  Stephen Layton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polyphony
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951-1952; France 
4. Motets (4) pour un temps de pénitence by Francis Poulenc
Conductor:  Stephen Layton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polyphony
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938-1939; France 
5. Exultate Deo by Francis Poulenc
Conductor:  Stephen Layton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polyphony
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941; France 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Perfect introduction to Poulenc's sacred music May 16, 2012 By R Gregory Capaldini (Arlington, VA) See All My Reviews "This version of the Gloria gets it right, pure and simple. Layton must have heard many of the recordings I have, because he avoids all the pitfalls. As a tiny example, the first two syllables of the word "Gloria" are notated with a double-dotted eight and 32nd, and the conductor has the taste and good sense to treat the shorter note as the last sextuplet (not octuplet) of the beat, without a gaping hole between the pitches. Yes, it makes a difference, and while we're at it, fiddle-dee-dee on the reviewer who says the luxuriously-voiced Ms. Gritton over-romanticizes the "Domine Deus" -- it's lovely. The remaining a capella performances are fine also, but the disc could have accommodated a bit more music. No matter... buy without hesitation!" Report Abuse
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