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The Rascal and the Sparrow - Poulenc Meets Piaf / Antonio Pompa-Baldi


Release Date: 09/24/2013 
Label:  Steinway & Sons   Catalog #: 30015  
Composer:  Francis PoulencMarguerite MonnotR. S. LouiguyAndré Bernheim,   ... 
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 8 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews


There are some brilliantly original keyboard recitals coming from independent labels these days, and this is certainly one of them. Antonio Pompa-Baldi is best known for his excellent ongoing complete Grieg piano music cycle on Centaur. For this, his first recital on Steinway’s own label, he offers an unusual, intelligent, and very satisfying disc of transcriptions of songs composed by Poulenc (the “rascal” of the album title), and a solo-keyboard selection of popular favorites sung by Edith Piaf (the “sparrow”), including iconic numbers such as “La vie en rose” and “Non, je ne regrette rien.” The Piaf transcriptions are by Roberto Piana, while Pompa-Baldi himself arranged the Poulenc songs (except
Read more of course for the Improvisation No. 15, Poulenc’s “Hommage à Edith Piaf”, which is a piano solo originally).

The art of transcribing songs for the piano goes back at least to Liszt and his first Schubert song transcriptions of the 1830s. Piana calls his Piaf arrangements “elaborations”, for that really is what they are—the song used as the basis for a self-contained keyboard miniature. Pompa-Baldi follows the same general pattern. For example, Poulenc’s song “Je n’ai envie que de t’aimer” from the cycle Tel jour, telle nuit lasts scarcely 30 seconds in Poulenc’s own performance with baritone Pierre Bernac. Here the piece is taken slower, and extended for a full minute and a half. In this arrangement it sounds “torchier”, more like a Piaf song, but also more satisfyingly self-contained. Not that there is any stylistic incompatibility between Poulenc and the cabaret song-writers of his day—far from it. Poulenc’s idiom is saturated with the sounds of the Parisian cabarets of the 1920s and ’30s, and beyond that, a great song is a great song, period. In this genre, terms such as “classical” and “popular” for the most part are meaningless labels.

Some of the better known Poulenc songs that Pompa-Baldi includes are “C”, “Les chemins de l’amour” (which even listeners who know nothing of Poulenc’s songs will recognize), “Montparnasse”, “Hyde Park”, and “Vous n’écrivez plus?”. There are 27 numbers in all, each wonderfully played, with a pathos that never turns pathetic in the more languishing pieces, and a zesty swagger where the music asks for it. Both Poulenc and Piaf died 50 years ago, in 1963, making this disc a splendid tribute to two major contemporaneous figures in French music who, to the best of our knowledge, never actually met. How satisfying it also is that Steinway is not in any hurry to record yet another Beethoven sonata cycle, but is willing to let talented yet lesser-known artists record truly interesting, distinctive programs. This one’s certainly a winner from start to finish.

– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

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THE RASCAL AND THE SPARROW Antonio Pompa-Baldi (pn) STEINWAY & SONS 2013 (67:40)

POULENC Les Chemins de l’amour. Hommage à Edith Piaf. Rosemonde. Berceuse. Reine des mouettes. C’est ainsi que tu es. C. Le Pont. Je n’ai envie que de t’aimer. Couplets bachiques. Nos souvenirs chantent. Le Départ. Le Dernier mazour. Attributs. Montparnasse. Hyde Park. Vous n’écrivez plus?. MONNOT Hymne à l’amour. Un grand amour. Les Amants d’un jour. Mon Légionnaire. C’est à Hambourg. LOUIGUY La Vie en rose. BERNHEIM Paris. BOUQUET Je sais comment. DUMONT Non, je ne regrette rien. Mon Dieu!

Francis Poulenc wrote an improvisation, his No. 15 in C Minor, and called it Hommage à Edith Piaf . Piaf, France’s best-known cabaret singer, was known as “The Little Sparrow.” Poulenc, whose music was sometimes irreverent, is characterized here as “The Rascal.” Italian-born pianist Antonio Pompa-Baldi saw this dedication and decided to build on it. He mixed transcriptions of Poulenc’s songs with piano arrangements of Piaf’s repertoire, describing it as a dialogue between the composer and the singer, the rascal and the sparrow. Although they were both famous in the 1920s and the 1930s and they had mutual friends such as Jean Cocteau, we don’t know that they were ever introduced to each other. Some of the songs Pompa-Baldi plays are familiar, such as R.S. Louiguy’s La Vie en rose , Marguerite Monnot’s Un grand amour (a great love), and Charles Dumont’s Non, je ne regrette rien (No, I regret nothing), but most of the Poulenc pieces are not well known. Many of them are soft-grained and create a pleasant or sweetly sad mood that never reaches a fever pitch, but that was the general modus operandi of both artists. The Poulenc’s Berceuse (Lullaby) may be the softest, but it helps delineate the songs that precede and follow it. His Reine des mouettes (Queen of seagulls) gives a perfect picture of the beach on a cloudy day and it leads into his delightful C’est ainsi que tu es (How you are) and the song we all know, La vie en rose (Life in pink).


Monnot’s Les Amants d’un jour (Lovers of a day) and Poulenc’s C simply add to the amorous mood their music has already created. Monnot’s Mon Légionnaire and Poulenc’s Hyde Park are more dramatic and serve to punctuate the established ambience. His melodic Polish songs Le Départ (The departure) and Le Dernier mazour (The last mazurka) add their resplendent tunes to this glorious mix. This disc could supply the perfect music for a party with a French theme: anything from crepes to pastry to wine.


Poulenc’s songs are new and interesting. If any listeners think it would be nice to hear them sung, there is a new release that features Felicity Lott, Christopher Maltman, and others singing Poulenc’s songs on a four-disc Hyperion set. Edith Piaf sings her chansons on Sepia Recordings. There are no truly comparable recordings for The Rascal and the Sparrow and I doubt that anyone will want to compete with Antonio Pompa-Baldi’s tour de force at the piano. He has given us a gem with clean, clear sound. Listening to this recording makes me remember Paris.

FANFARE: Maria Nockin
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Works on This Recording

1. Léocadia: Les chemins de l'amour by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940; France 
Notes: Arranger: Antonio Pompa-Baldi. 
2. Improvisation for Piano no 15 in C minor, FP 176 "Hommage à Edith Piaf" by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959; France 
3. Hymne à l'amour by Marguerite Monnot
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
Notes: Arranger: Roberto Piana. 
4. Rosemonde by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1954; France 
Notes: Arranger: Antonio Pompa-Baldi. 
5. Un grand amour by Marguerite Monnot
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Notes: Arranger: Roberto Piana. 
6. Poems (5) of Max Jacob, FP 59: no 4, Berceuse by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931; France 
Notes: Arranger: Antonio Pompa-Baldi. 
7. Métamorphoses (3): no 1, Reine des mouettes by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; France 
Notes: Arranger: Antonio Pompa-Baldi. 
8. Métamorphoses (3): no 2, C'est ainsi que tu es by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; France 
9. La vie en rose by R. S. Louiguy
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; France 
Notes: Arranger: Roberto Piana. 
10. Les amants d'un jour by Marguerite Monnot
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Notes: Arranger: Roberto Piana. 
11. Poèmes (2) d'Aragon: no 1, C by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; France 
Notes: Arranger: Antonio Pompa-Baldi. 
12. Paris by André Bernheim
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Notes: Arranger: Roberto Piana. 
13. Je sais comment by Julien Bouquet
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Notes: Arranger: Roberto Piana. 
14. Mélodies (2) de Apollinaire: no 1, Le pont by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; France 
Notes: Arranger: Antonio Pompa-Baldi. 
15. Mon légionnaire by Marguerite Monnot
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936 
Notes: Arranger: Roberto Piana. 
16. Tel jour, telle nuit: no 7, Je n'ai envie que de t'aimer by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936-1937; France 
Notes: Arranger: Antonio Pompa-Baldi. 
17. C'est à Hambourg by Marguerite Monnot
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Notes: Arranger: Roberto Piana. 
18. Chansons gaillardes (8): no 5, Couplets bachiques by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925-1926; France 
Notes: Arranger: Antonio Pompa-Baldi. 
19. Nos souvenirs chantent by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
Notes: Arranger: Antonio Pompa-Baldi. 
20. Non, je ne regrette rien by Charles Dumont
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Notes: Arranger: Roberto Piana. 
21. Mon Dieu! by Charles Dumont
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Notes: Arranger: Roberto Piana. 
22. Chansons polonaises (8): no 2, Le départ by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; France 
Notes: Arranger: Antonio Pompa-Baldi. 
23. Chansons polonaises (8): no 4, Le dernier mazour by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; France 
Notes: Arranger: Antonio Pompa-Baldi. 
24. Poèmes (5) de Ronsard: Attributs by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; France 
Notes: Arranger: Antonio Pompa-Baldi. 
25. Montparnasse by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941-1945; France 
Notes: Arranger: Antonio Pompa-Baldi. 
26. Hyde Park by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; France 
Notes: Arranger: Antonio Pompa-Baldi. 
27. Parisiana: no 2, Vous n'écrivez plus? by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1954; France 
Notes: Arranger: Antonio Pompa-Baldi. 

Featured Sound Samples

Les chemins de l'amour (Poulenc)
Mon legionnaire (Monnot)
Hymne a l'amour (Monnot)
Nos souvenirs chantent (Poulenc)

Sound Samples

Les chemins de l'amour, FP 106 (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano)
Improvisations: Improvisation No. 15 in C Minor, "Hommage a Edith Piaf"
Hymne a l'amour (arr. R. Piana for piano)
Rosemonde, FP 158 (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano)
Un grand amour qui s'acheve (arr. R. Piana for piano)
5 Poemes de Max Jacob, FP 59 (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano): 5 Poemes de Max Jacob, FP 59: No. 4. Berceuse (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano)
Metamorphoses, FP 121 (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano): No. 1. Reine des mouettes
Metamorphoses, FP 121 (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano): No. 2. C'est ainsi que tu es
La Vie en rose (arr. R. Piana for piano)
Les amants d'un jour (arr. R. Piana for piano)
2 Poemes de Louis Aragon, FP 122 (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano): 2 Poemes de Louis Aragon, FP 122: No. 1. C (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano)
L'homme aux mains d'argile: Paris (arr. R. Piana for piano)
Je sais comment (arr. R. Piana for piano)
2 Melodies sur des poemes de Guillaume Apollinaire, FP 131 (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano): 2 Melodies sur des poemes de Guillaume Apollinaire, FP 131: No. 1. Le pont (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano)
Mon legionnaire (arr. R. Piana for piano)
Tel jour, telle nuit, FP 86 (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano): Tel jour, telle nuit, FP 86: No. 7. Je n'ai envie que de t'aimer (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano)
C'est a Hamburg (arr. R. Piana for piano)
Chansons gaillardes, FP 42 (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano): Chansons gaillardes, FP 42: No. 5. Couplets bachiques (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano)
Nos souvenirs chantent, FP 182 (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano)
Non, je ne regrette rien (arr. R. Piana for piano)
Mon Dieu (My God) (arr. R. Piana for piano)
8 Chansons polonaises, FP 69 (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano): No. 2. Le depart (Odjazd)
8 Chansons polonaises, FP 69 (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano): No. 4. Le dernier mazour (Ostatni mazur)
Poemes de Ronsard, FP 38 (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano): Poemes de Ronsard, FP 38: No. 1. Attributs (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano)
Montparnasse, FP 127 (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano)
Hyde Park, FP 128 (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano)
Parisiana, FP 157 (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano): Parisiana, FP 157: No. 2. Vous n'ecrivez plus? (arr. A. Pompa-Baldi for piano)

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  13 Customer Reviews )
 Well, now, this one is just lovely! January 29, 2014 By Jane J  R. (Royal Oak, MI) See All My Reviews "Edith Piaf sang the blues en francais so beautifully with the lilt that reminds that this too shall pass. Poulenc captures all of that brilliantly and Pompa-Baldi delivers it impeccably, making the piano sing with Piaf's voice. This is a disc to play a many times, to raise your spirits and feed your heart." Report Abuse
 Just a piano bar..... December 31, 2013 By Maria C A. (Richmond, CA) See All My Reviews "It is a nice music, but no more than you'd expect on a piano bar at a good restaurant or bar...." Report Abuse
 good choice November 11, 2013 By mike b. (burnaby, British Columbia) See All My Reviews "This is one classy disc,relaxing music, unknown to me but a pleasant surprise. I thought it similar to Mompou's piano music also Goes and Nazareth and Francisco Mignone. Very well played with good recording quality. You won't go wrong here." Report Abuse
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