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Poulenc: Chamber Music / David Jalbert, Pentaedre

Poulenc / Pentaedre / Jalbert
Release Date: 02/26/2013 
Label:  Atma Classique   Catalog #: 22646   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Francis Poulenc
Performer:  David JalbertDaničle BourgetMartin Carpentier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pentačdre
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

POULENC Sextet for Piano and Winds, Op. 100. Flute Sonata, Op. 164. Élégie, Op. 168. Clarinet Sonata, Op. 184. Trio for Piano, Oboe, and Bassoon, Op. 43. Novelette Danièle Bourget (fl); Martin Carpentier (cl); Normand Forget (ob); Louis-Philipe Marsolais (hn); Matthieu Lussier (bsn); Read more David Jalbert (pn) ATMA 2646 (67:35)

Poulenc has been unusually well served of late by a couple of recent releases purporting to contain his complete chamber works for winds. First to arrive was a two-disc French set from Indésens, featuring a cast of players from the Paris Orchestra, reviewed in 34:4. That was followed by an almost identical set on Champs Hill featuring the London Conchord Ensemble, reviewed in 36:1. Neither set was 100 percent complete, as advertised, but both were irresistible feasts for the Poulenc lover.

Here, on a single disc, we have a more modest collection of Poulenc’s wind works, but one which nonetheless contains at least four of the composer’s better-known, more popular pieces—the Sextet for piano and winds, the sonatas for flute and clarinet, and the Trio for piano, oboe, and bassoon. There’s one item on this CD that’s missing from both the Indésens and Champs Hill śuvres completes , but not without good reason, and that’s the Novelette . Poulenc composed a set of three such pieces in 1927–28 for piano solo, not for winds. The Novelette heard here is the first of them, the one in C Major, presented in a transcription for wind quintet by British horn player and conductor Geoffrey Emerson.

With the exception of the trio, the earliest composed work on the disc (1926) and the sextet, the second earliest composed work on the disc (1940), the remaining items—the Flute Sonata (1957), the Élégie (1957), and the Clarinet Sonata (1962)—date from Poulenc’s last years and have a valedictory quality about them. Even the merriment of the flute sonata’s first and last movements doesn’t conceal the wistfulness that lies beneath it, and the Satie-like sadness of the slow movement is heartbreaking.

If a sense of melancholy pervades the flute sonata, it’s a much bleaker feeling one experiences in the slow movement of the clarinet sonata, Poulenc’s penultimate opus number, composed in the year before his death. Even the circus barker’s music in the last movement shrieks with a feeling of increasing desperation and hysteria.

If you haven’t yet lent an ear to Poulenc’s chamber music for winds, and you’re hesitant to invest in either of the above-mentioned two-disc sets, this single CD from Atma is the ideal initiate’s album. It contains some of the composer’s best and most beautiful music in idiomatic performances by this Canadian-French ensemble of musicians calling itself Pentaèdre. Thoroughly steeped in and attuned to the style, the players are technically flawless and highly responsive to Poulenc’s mercurial musical moods. Atma’s recording, made in 2010 in the Salle Pierre-Mercure at Montréal’s Pierre-Péladeau Center, balances the instruments beautifully in an open, spacious acoustic setting. Strongly recommended.

FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  David Jalbert (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pentačdre
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; France 
Sonata for Flute and Piano by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  David Jalbert (Piano), Daničle Bourget (Flute)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pentačdre
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956-1957; France 
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  David Jalbert (Piano), Martin Carpentier (Clarinet)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pentačdre
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1962; France 
Sextet for Piano, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon and Horn by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  David Jalbert (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pentačdre
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932-1939; France 
Novelettes (2) for Piano: no 1 in C major by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  David Jalbert (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927-1928; France 

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