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Poulenc: Figure Humaine / Daniel Reuss, Berlin Rias Chamber Choir

Poulenc / Rias-kammerchor / Reuss / Creed
Release Date: 06/11/2013 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 508394  
Composer:  Francis Poulenc
Conductor:  Daniel Reuss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews


What a beautiful disc! If you're a Poulenc choral music fan, read no further--just be assured that you'll love these idiomatic, sensitively balanced, vibrant performances by Berlin's RIAS-Kammerchor, performances that capture the special harmonic/textural character of these a cappella works and express it in impressively nuanced French, recorded in the complementary acoustics of Berlin's Jesus Christus-Kirche. And if you're not familiar with Poulenc's choral works, here's the place to begin listening. The program's very first piece, "La blanche neige" from Sept Chansons, is little more than one minute long, but it's sung with such panache, such perfectly-wrought phrasing and colorful
Read more dynamic washes, that there's no way you can resist committing to the following 50-plus minutes.


The two works for double-choir, the evocative chamber cantata Un soir de neige and the masterpiece Figure humaine, both written during and profoundly affected by World War II (the latter, with its "Liberté" theme, secretly published in occupied France), are examples of Poulenc's most refined choral style, and they explicitly exhibit what some observers have referred to as his method of "vocal orchestration".


Of course, Poulenc's particular way of combining vocal timbres and his technique of varying textures within the context of harmonies laced with seconds and sevenths must be heard to be fully appreciated--and there are no finer advocates for this music and its style than Daniel Reuss and his world-class choir. Intonation, so absolutely critical in these works, is dead on (just listen to the chills-inducing ending to "Aussi bas que le silence" from Figure humaine). And the fact that these singers are German matters not a bit: their French is impeccable, the phrasing and inflection as good or better than that of the French reference ensemble. The male-voice works are as fine as the mixed-choir selections (although I still am partial to The Gents in the Quatre petites prières)--and the concluding Chanson à boire, a wild drinking song that's completely different from anything else on the CD, will leave you with a broad smile if not a laugh. As I said at the beginning--what a beautiful disc! [7/6/2005]
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
Reviewing original HMU release Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Figure humaine by Francis Poulenc
Conductor:  Daniel Reuss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943/1959; France 
2. Un soir de neige by Francis Poulenc
Conductor:  Daniel Reuss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; France 
3. Petites prières (4) de Saint François d'Assise by Francis Poulenc
Conductor:  Daniel Reuss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; France 
4. Chanson à boire by Francis Poulenc
Conductor:  Daniel Reuss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922; France 
5. Chansons (7) by Francis Poulenc
Conductor:  Daniel Reuss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; France 

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