Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) [composer Of The Week]

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
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Black Butterflies20190405

Donald Macleod looks at Poulenc’s precarious state of mind towards the end of his life.

Donald Macleod explores five aspects of Poulenc’s personality and how they find expression in his music. 'In Poulenc there is something of the monk and something of the rascal' said the composer’s friend Claude Rostand - but there were other sources of inspiration that drove him. From the gregarious exploits of his youth to his serious engagement with Catholicism, from schmoozing in high society salons to the calm he sought at his country retreat and his struggles with depression, Donald surveys the life and music of a man full of contradictions.

Contentment was never Poulenc’s state of mind for very long towards the end of his life: after suffering from insomnia for several years he had come to rely on barbiturates. Though his partner Louis was loyal and provided stability for him, the composer was full of self-doubt. In the final programme this week Donald Macleod looks at Poulenc’s search for peace in his final years.

Sonata for Flute and Piano (2nd Mvt)
Edmond Defrancesco, flute
Francis Poulenc, piano

Gloria
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Louis Frémaux, conductor

Élégie for horn and piano
Richard Watkins, horn
Ian Brown, piano

Sept Répons des Ténèbres (Mvts V-VI-VII)
Libby Crabtree, soprano
The Sixteen
BBC Philharmonic
Harry Christophers, conductor

Poulenc\u2019s state of mind in his final years.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

Drinking Songs20190401

Donald Macleod looks at the insouciance of Poulenc’s 1920s, when he was dazzled by Cocteau and joined Diaghilev's court in Monte Carlo.

This week Donald Macleod explores five aspects of Poulenc’s personality and how they find expression in his music. 'In Poulenc there is something of the monk and something of the rascal' said the composer’s friend Claude Rostand - but there were other sources of inspiration that drove him. From the gregarious exploits of his youth to his serious engagement with Catholicism, from schmoozing in high society salons to the calm he sought at his country retreat and his struggles with depression, Donald surveys the life and music of a man full of contradictions.

Poulenc was evidently very good company, always ready with a good line on the latest gossip, and in the first programme this week Donald Macleod looks at how the young composer was eagerly taken up by the fashionable artistic crowd who frequented the cafes of Montmartre. Poulenc had the privilege of encountering a stellar line up of artists in post-WW1 Paris, including Picasso, Georges Braque and Modigliani, as well as the writers Paul Valéry, André Gide and Paul Éluard. Poulenc quickly established himself as one of the brightest stars in these glittering circles, but admitted to being “dazzled” by Jean Cocteau. Poulenc’s friendship with Cocteau would last throughout his life, and he returned to setting his texts much later on.

Chanson à boire
Groupe Vocal de France
John Alldis, conductor

Cocardes
Robert Murray, tenor
Martin Martineau, piano

La Dame de Monte-Carlo
Felicity Lott, soprano
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Armin Jordan, conductor

Les Biches (Suite)
Ulster Orchestra
Yan Pascal Tortelier, conductor

Chansons Gaillardes
Ashley Riches, bass-baritone
Graham Johnson, piano

The young Poulenc parties in Paris and Monte Carlo

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

High Society20190402

Donald Macleod looks at Poulenc’s contacts among the salons of Parisian high society and his dealings with that legendary patron of music, the Princess de Polignac.

Donald Macleod explores five aspects of Poulenc’s personality and how they find expression in his music. 'In Poulenc there is something of the monk and something of the rascal' said the composer’s friend Claude Rostand - but there were other sources of inspiration that drove him. From the gregarious exploits of his youth to his serious engagement with Catholicism, from schmoozing in high society salons to the calm he sought at his country retreat and his struggles with depression, Donald surveys the life and music of a man full of contradictions.

Poulenc had a privileged entry to the world, and as an adult slipped effortlessly into the affluent, artistic circles of Paris. The composer’s career was advanced by high society salons and the connections and friendships he cultivated there. Today Donald Macleod looks at the influential people he met in these settings, who he came to rely on professionally and personally, including Wanda Landowska and the Princesse de Polignac.

Nocturne No 4 in C minor ‘Bal fantôme’
Stephen Hough, piano

Concert Champêtre (1st mvt)
Ton Koopman, harpsichord
Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest
James Conlon, conductor

Trois poèmes de Louise Lalanne
Elly Ameling, soprano
Dalton Baldwin, piano

Tel Jour, Telle Nuit
Felicity Lott, soprano
Martin Martineau, piano

Concerto in D minor for Two Pianos and Orchestra
Louis Lortie, piano
Hélène Mercier, piano
BBC Philharmonic
Edward Gardner, conductor

Poulenc in the salons of Parisian high society.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

Pilgrim20190404

Donald Macleod looks at a turning point in Poulenc’s life, inspired by a visit to the shrine at Rocamadour, which led him back to the faith of his youth - Catholicism.

Donald Macleod explores five aspects of Poulenc’s personality and how they find expression in his music. 'In Poulenc there is something of the monk and something of the rascal' said the composer’s friend Claude Rostand - but there were other sources of inspiration that drove him. From the gregarious exploits of his youth to his serious engagement with Catholicism, from schmoozing in high society salons to the calm he sought at his country retreat and his struggles with depression, Donald surveys the life and music of a man full of contradictions.

“Outwardly nothing happened, yet from that moment everything in the spiritual life of Poulenc changed” – is how a friend of the composer recalled his visit to the shrine of the Black Madonna at Rocamadour after the death of a colleague. Donald Macleod explores the way in which Poulenc’s re-engagement with his father’s faith – Catholicism – in 1936, profoundly impacted on his work, but also caused him anxiety.

Priez pour paix
Ann Murray, mezzo soprano
Graham Johnson, piano

Litanies à la Vierge Noire
The Sixteen
Harry Christophers, conductor

Stabat Mater
Carolyn Sampson, soprano
Cappella Amsterdam
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Estonian National Symphony Orchestra
Daniel Reuss, conductor

Sonata for Two Pianos (3rd Mvt)
Roland Pöntinen, piano
Love Derwinger, piano

Dialogues des Carmélites (Act II, Sc 4)
Josephine Barstow, soprano (Mother Marie of the Incarnation)
Catrin Wyn-Davies, soprano (Blanche)
Ryland Davies, tenor (Chaplain)
Sarah Tynan, soprano (Sister Constance of Saint-Denis)
Jane Powell, mezzo-soprano (Mother Jeanne of the child Jesus)
James Edwards, tenor (First Commissioner)
English National Opera Chorus and Orchestra
Paul Daniel, conductor

At a turning point in his life, Poulenc embraces Catholicism.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

The Vineyards at Noizay20190403

Donald Macleod looks at the works Poulenc composed at his country retreat in Noizay, where he went to escape from Paris, especially during WWII>

Donald Macleod explores five aspects of Poulenc’s personality and how they find expression in his music. 'In Poulenc there is something of the monk and something of the rascal' said the composer’s friend Claude Rostand - but there were other sources of inspiration that drove him. From the gregarious exploits of his youth to his serious engagement with Catholicism, from schmoozing in high society salons to the calm he sought at his country retreat and his struggles with depression, Donald surveys the life and music of a man full of contradictions.

In his late twenties Poulenc ploughed most of his inheritance from his parents into buying and restoring a 16th century house and vineyard at Noizay in the valley of the Loire. It became a retreat for him from the distractions of Paris, and a place of calm where he could compose, especially during the Second World War. But although Collette described Poulenc during this period as a 'country composer, inspired by the terroir', he was also occasionally bored to tears, and he scarcely set foot outside the house, except to walk in his elaborate, geometrical formal gardens. Donald Macleod looks at how Poulenc’s vision of a simple, rustic France worked its way into his pieces.

Ce doux petit visage
Ailish Tynan, soprano
Graham Johnson, piano

Chansons villageoises (Excerpt)
Jean Christophe Benoit, tenor
Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire
Georges Prêtre, conductor

Les Animaux modèles
Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz
Ariane Matiakh, conductor

Figure Humaine
Tenebrae
Nigel Short, director

Poulenc\u2019s country retreat and the calm he found there.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201901Drinking Songs20190401

Donald Macleod looks at the insouciance of Poulenc’s 1920s, when he was dazzled by Cocteau and joined Diaghilev's court in Monte Carlo.

This week Donald Macleod explores five aspects of Poulenc’s personality and how they find expression in his music. 'In Poulenc there is something of the monk and something of the rascal' said the composer’s friend Claude Rostand - but there were other sources of inspiration that drove him. From the gregarious exploits of his youth to his serious engagement with Catholicism, from schmoozing in high society salons to the calm he sought at his country retreat and his struggles with depression, Donald surveys the life and music of a man full of contradictions.

Poulenc was evidently very good company, always ready with a good line on the latest gossip, and in the first programme this week Donald Macleod looks at how the young composer was eagerly taken up by the fashionable artistic crowd who frequented the cafes of Montmartre. Poulenc had the privilege of encountering a stellar line up of artists in post-WW1 Paris, including Picasso, Georges Braque and Modigliani, as well as the writers Paul Valéry, André Gide and Paul Éluard. Poulenc quickly established himself as one of the brightest stars in these glittering circles, but admitted to being “dazzled” by Jean Cocteau. Poulenc’s friendship with Cocteau would last throughout his life, and he returned to setting his texts much later on.

Chanson à boire
Groupe Vocal de France
John Alldis, conductor

Cocardes
Robert Murray, tenor
Martin Martineau, piano

La Dame de Monte-Carlo
Felicity Lott, soprano
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Armin Jordan, conductor

Les Biches (Suite)
Ulster Orchestra
Yan Pascal Tortelier, conductor

Chansons Gaillardes
Ashley Riches, bass-baritone
Graham Johnson, piano

The young Poulenc parties in Paris and Monte Carlo

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201902High Society20190402

Donald Macleod looks at Poulenc’s contacts among the salons of Parisian high society and his dealings with that legendary patron of music, the Princess de Polignac.

Donald Macleod explores five aspects of Poulenc’s personality and how they find expression in his music. 'In Poulenc there is something of the monk and something of the rascal' said the composer’s friend Claude Rostand - but there were other sources of inspiration that drove him. From the gregarious exploits of his youth to his serious engagement with Catholicism, from schmoozing in high society salons to the calm he sought at his country retreat and his struggles with depression, Donald surveys the life and music of a man full of contradictions.

Poulenc had a privileged entry to the world, and as an adult slipped effortlessly into the affluent, artistic circles of Paris. The composer’s career was advanced by high society salons and the connections and friendships he cultivated there. Today Donald Macleod looks at the influential people he met in these settings, who he came to rely on professionally and personally, including Wanda Landowska and the Princesse de Polignac.

Nocturne No 4 in C minor ‘Bal fantôme’
Stephen Hough, piano

Concert Champêtre (1st mvt)
Ton Koopman, harpsichord
Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest
James Conlon, conductor

Trois poèmes de Louise Lalanne
Elly Ameling, soprano
Dalton Baldwin, piano

Tel Jour, Telle Nuit
Felicity Lott, soprano
Martin Martineau, piano

Concerto in D minor for Two Pianos and Orchestra
Louis Lortie, piano
Hélène Mercier, piano
BBC Philharmonic
Edward Gardner, conductor

Poulenc in the salons of Parisian high society.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201903The Vineyards At Noizay20190403

Donald Macleod looks at the works Poulenc composed at his country retreat in Noizay, where he went to escape from Paris, especially during WWII>

Donald Macleod explores five aspects of Poulenc’s personality and how they find expression in his music. 'In Poulenc there is something of the monk and something of the rascal' said the composer’s friend Claude Rostand - but there were other sources of inspiration that drove him. From the gregarious exploits of his youth to his serious engagement with Catholicism, from schmoozing in high society salons to the calm he sought at his country retreat and his struggles with depression, Donald surveys the life and music of a man full of contradictions.

In his late twenties Poulenc ploughed most of his inheritance from his parents into buying and restoring a 16th century house and vineyard at Noizay in the valley of the Loire. It became a retreat for him from the distractions of Paris, and a place of calm where he could compose, especially during the Second World War. But although Collette described Poulenc during this period as a 'country composer, inspired by the terroir', he was also occasionally bored to tears, and he scarcely set foot outside the house, except to walk in his elaborate, geometrical formal gardens. Donald Macleod looks at how Poulenc’s vision of a simple, rustic France worked its way into his pieces.

Ce doux petit visage
Ailish Tynan, soprano
Graham Johnson, piano

Chansons villageoises (Excerpt)
Jean Christophe Benoit, tenor
Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire
Georges Prêtre, conductor

Les Animaux modèles
Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz
Ariane Matiakh, conductor

Figure Humaine
Tenebrae
Nigel Short, director

Poulenc\u2019s country retreat and the calm he found there.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201904Pilgrim20190404

Donald Macleod looks at a turning point in Poulenc’s life, inspired by a visit to the shrine at Rocamadour, which led him back to the faith of his youth - Catholicism.

Donald Macleod explores five aspects of Poulenc’s personality and how they find expression in his music. 'In Poulenc there is something of the monk and something of the rascal' said the composer’s friend Claude Rostand - but there were other sources of inspiration that drove him. From the gregarious exploits of his youth to his serious engagement with Catholicism, from schmoozing in high society salons to the calm he sought at his country retreat and his struggles with depression, Donald surveys the life and music of a man full of contradictions.

“Outwardly nothing happened, yet from that moment everything in the spiritual life of Poulenc changed” – is how a friend of the composer recalled his visit to the shrine of the Black Madonna at Rocamadour after the death of a colleague. Donald Macleod explores the way in which Poulenc’s re-engagement with his father’s faith – Catholicism – in 1936, profoundly impacted on his work, but also caused him anxiety.

Priez pour paix
Ann Murray, mezzo soprano
Graham Johnson, piano

Litanies à la Vierge Noire
The Sixteen
Harry Christophers, conductor

Stabat Mater
Carolyn Sampson, soprano
Cappella Amsterdam
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Estonian National Symphony Orchestra
Daniel Reuss, conductor

Sonata for Two Pianos (3rd Mvt)
Roland Pöntinen, piano
Love Derwinger, piano

Dialogues des Carmélites (Act II, Sc 4)
Josephine Barstow, soprano (Mother Marie of the Incarnation)
Catrin Wyn-Davies, soprano (Blanche)
Ryland Davies, tenor (Chaplain)
Sarah Tynan, soprano (Sister Constance of Saint-Denis)
Jane Powell, mezzo-soprano (Mother Jeanne of the child Jesus)
James Edwards, tenor (First Commissioner)
English National Opera Chorus and Orchestra
Paul Daniel, conductor

At a turning point in his life, Poulenc embraces Catholicism.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201905 LASTBlack Butterflies20190405

Donald Macleod looks at Poulenc’s precarious state of mind towards the end of his life.

Donald Macleod explores five aspects of Poulenc’s personality and how they find expression in his music. 'In Poulenc there is something of the monk and something of the rascal' said the composer’s friend Claude Rostand - but there were other sources of inspiration that drove him. From the gregarious exploits of his youth to his serious engagement with Catholicism, from schmoozing in high society salons to the calm he sought at his country retreat and his struggles with depression, Donald surveys the life and music of a man full of contradictions.

Contentment was never Poulenc’s state of mind for very long towards the end of his life: after suffering from insomnia for several years he had come to rely on barbiturates. Though his partner Louis was loyal and provided stability for him, the composer was full of self-doubt. In the final programme this week Donald Macleod looks at Poulenc’s search for peace in his final years.

Sonata for Flute and Piano (2nd Mvt)
Edmond Defrancesco, flute
Francis Poulenc, piano

Gloria
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Louis Frémaux, conductor

Élégie for horn and piano
Richard Watkins, horn
Ian Brown, piano

Sept Répons des Ténèbres (Mvts V-VI-VII)
Libby Crabtree, soprano
The Sixteen
BBC Philharmonic
Harry Christophers, conductor

Poulenc\u2019s state of mind in his final years.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.