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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | New Year Listening With Poulenc And Koechlin

By Norman Lebrecht on January 3, 2020

Lebrecht Listens: Poulenc and Koechlin

Poulenc/Koechlin: Piano and Orchestra (Odradek Records))

★★★★☆/★★☆☆☆

🎧 Presto Classical

No happier way to start a year than Francis Poulenc, few grimmer than Charles Koechlin. This album opens with the little-played Poulenc Sinfonietta, originally intended as a string quartet and allegedly thrown in a Paris gutter when it did not work out. First heard in London in 1948, it’s a Mozart-meets-Stravinsky score, and none the worse for that. Even at his most neo-classical, Igor never got this light.

The captivating Poulenc piano concerto was premiered by the composer himself in 1950. The Boston audience snubbed it as second-rate Rachmaninov, but Poulenc has much more joie-de-vivre, and wears what he called ‘my Parisian sexuality’ out and proud. It will put a smile on any face, outside Boston.

Something Koechlin can’t. If Wagner had been born half a century later in France, he would have been Koechlin. Tepid, imitative, sub-Vaughan Williams at best, Koechlin is the sort of thing the BBC used to play to fill time up to the news. Life’s worth more than this. The Bamberger Symphony play well for Thomas Rösner.

To read more from Norman Lebrecht, follow him on Slippedisc.com.

Norman Lebrecht’s new book Genius and Anxiety is available January 14, 2020. Pre-order here.

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Ludwig Van Toronto

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LEBRECHT LISTENS | Hans Werner Henze And The Unwritten 10 Year Law

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