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Poulenc: Figure Humaine; Mass In G; Un Soir Neige, Chansons / Dijkstra, Swedish Radio Choir

Poulenc / Swedish Radio Choir / Dijkstra
Release Date: 10/11/2011 
Label:  Channel Classics   Catalog #: 31411   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Francis Poulenc
Conductor:  Peter Dijkstra
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swedish Radio Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Poulenc's choral music would be a lot more popular with choirs if it just wasn't so darned difficult to sing. Because it's the sort of music--those jazzy harmonies!, those seductive melodies!--that makes you want to sing it--especially if your musical style preference includes French; there's no music more "French" than Poulenc's. However, for first-tier amateur or professional choirs, such challenges are all in a day's work, and no one would question the artistic credentials or technical facility of the Swedish Radio Choir, a professional group that routinely takes on all manner of repertoire, from early works to the most modern.

The Mass, from 1937, certainly is far from
Read more "modern", but that doesn't keep it from still sounding that way, its harmonies and vocal effects reaching beyond any period convention or academic form. And it would be hard to say that the Sept Chansons, from the same time, are dated or represent any but the most forward-looking compositional ideas. The masterpiece Figure Humaine, written in the midst of Nazi-occupied Paris in 1943 to poems of Paul Éluard, is perhaps the ultimate Poulenc musical statement; dedicated to Pablo Picasso, the work embodies what the composer described as his "best and most individual" contribution--his choral music.

The 35-voice choir makes a suitably full-bodied sound, yet keeps the individual lines clean and clear and the textures rich and vibrant, confirming once again the reasons that make us not only so happy to listen but that also make us want to sing. Channel Classics' Jared Sacks has been recording choirs for a long time--and as one of the first to fully appreciate, understand, and utilize the potential of digital recording, he consistently produces demonstration-quality recordings that present the performers in an acoustic setting that's most favorable to their art and to their music. This is no exception--and although there are many alternatives in the CD catalog--from Accentus, The Sixteen, The Netherlands Chamber Choir, to name a few--they lack just that slight, vibrant edge and exuberance characterized in these performances, which should find a place in every choral music lover's library. Highly recommended.

--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Un soir de neige by Francis Poulenc
Conductor:  Peter Dijkstra
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swedish Radio Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; France 
Mass in G major by Francis Poulenc
Conductor:  Peter Dijkstra
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swedish Radio Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; France 
Figure humaine by Francis Poulenc
Conductor:  Peter Dijkstra
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swedish Radio Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943/1959; France 
Chansons (7) by Francis Poulenc
Conductor:  Peter Dijkstra
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swedish Radio Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; France 

Sound Samples

Mass in G Major: Kyrie
Mass in G Major: Gloria
Mass in G Major: Sanctus
Mass in G Major: Benedictus
Mass in G Major: Agnus Dei
Sept Chansons: I. La Blanche Neige
Sept Chansons: II. Peine Défigurée
Sept Chansons: III. Par une Nuit Nouvelle
Sept Chansons: IV. Tous les Droits
Sept Chansons: V. Belle et Ressemblante
Sept Chansons: VI. Marie
Sept Chansons: VII. Luire
Un Soir de Neige: I. De Grandes Cuillers de Neige...
Un Soir de Neige: II. La Bonne Neige...
Un Soir de Neige: III. Bois Meurtri...
Un Soir de Neige: IV. La Nuit la Froid la Solitude...
Figure Humaine: I. De Tous les Printemps du Monde...
Figure Humaine: II. En Chantant les Servantes s'Élancent
Figure Humaine: III. Aussi bas Que le Silence...
Figure Humaine: IV. Toi Ma Patiente...
Figure Humaine: V. Riant du Ciel et des Planètes
Figure Humaine: VI. Le Jour m'Étonne et la Nuit me Fair Peur...
Figure Humaine: VII. La Menace Sous le Ciel Rouge...
Figure Humaine: VIII. Liberté

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