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Vocal music by Francis Poulenc

Sept Chansons (La blanche neige; A peine défigurée; Par une nuit nouvelle; Tous les droit; Belle et ressemblante; Marie; Luire); Quatre petites priers de Saint François d’Assise (Salut; Tout puissant ; Seigneur, je vous en prie; O mes très chèrs frères); Ave verum corpus; Un soir de neige (De grandes cuillers de neige; La bonne neige; Bois meurtri; La nuit, le froid, la solitude); Laudes de Saint Antoine de Padoue (O Jesu; O proles; Laus Regi; Si quaeris); Chansons françaises (Margoton va t’à l’iau; La belle se sied; Pilons l’orge; Clic, Clac, dansez sabots; C’est la petit’ fill’ du prince; La belle si nous étions; Ah! Mon beau laboureur; Les tisserands); Chanson à boire

Danish National Vocal Ensemble/Stephen Layton

OUR Recordings: 8226906

Poulenc's posthumous reputation has increased exponentially in UK, especially with a succession of marvellous marvellous 21C. recordings. A complete set of all his songs from Oxford is well under way, and the London Conchord ensemble has just released a fine collection of his complete chamber music.

This choral CD, due for release next week, might have capped them both because of the comparative rarity of its repertoire, but alas in our opinion it should be hastily withdrawn, because the presentation makes it unrecommendable.

For song, in Musical Pointers' book, good clear print and parallel translations are axiomatic; we have developed this in our articles, Texts for CD releases and CD insert booklets*

- - Inaccessible translations: good intentions can be ruined by faulty pagination
- see Linn's nearly recommendable 17th Century Italian Love Songs in which
it is impossible to follow both the Italian originals with the English translations.

ArtsMusik.de has responded very constructively to my complaint that their latest CD booklet text
is so miniscule as to be unreadable. They promptly supplied the booklet as .PDF
(which allows for zooming to required size) and have promised
to make their notes (Buxtehude Sonatas op.1) available on their website soon.

Poulenc was versed in literature and astute in choosing texts to set to music, as was his English friend Benjamin Britten. There are twenty-nine Poulenc choral songs, by poets including Appollinaire, Éluard, Ss. Francis of Assisi and Anthony of Padua, together with a large selection of anonymous French songs, many of those delivered at breakneck speed by the marvellous Danish Choir under English conductor Stephen Layton.

But here the French words are separated from their English translations, so that the only way to follow them whilst listening required ripping the booklet apart and trying to align the pages [q.v. pp 22 & 31 below] !

If it is too late to withdraw this CD before it reaches the shops, I suggest that OUR Recordings hastens to put all the texts, arranged in proper parallel format, onto their website, with a note that they have done so to the record shops for purchasers.

The booklet should be returned forthwith to graphic designer Charlotte Bruun Petersen for radical rethinking; to my own taste texts are always better black on white, rather than on pink and dark blue (which makes reading harder for some listeners). Adjustment of font sizing and line spacing should make an easy job for her. Failing that possibility, bi-lingual texts should be offered on the excellent "OUR recordings" website?

My strictures are offered in the sincere and friendly hope that they will be adopted and turn around a flawed release into a triumph.

Peter Grahame Woolf