Poulenc: Les Biches – Suite, Les Animaux modèles – Suite & Sinfonietta
RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Jean-Luc Tingaud
Francis Poulenc wrote two ballets, the suites from which provide the main works on this recording. Les Biches is a sequence of captivating dances that explore many themes which were considered taboo at the time. The narrative of the work is essentially plot free but by fusing together musical styles from various periods and genres Poulenc makes a success of the work. The suite begins with busy melodies and bustling rhythms and almost jazz-like syncopations prior to a bitter-sweet slower section. the Rag-Mazurka, with its cheeky Chopin F sharp minor Polonaise quote, is not far removed from a Charleston dance! Fabulous stuff!
In Les Animaux modèles, Poulenc transforms the animals of La Fontaine’s fables into human characters in a patchwork score that in this performance is full of colour and humour. The Sinfonietta, FP 141 that brings the CD to a conclusion is a playful and light-hearted piece that is performed exceptionally well by the Irish forces of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra as indeed are the other two works on this bargain Naxos release.
Maybe this performance of Les Biches does not quite match the audacity and live thrill of my go-to choice conducted by Thierry Fischer and his Welsh forces on Signum Classics, SIGCD205 but that is coupled with Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. However the present CD is excellently recorded and as an all Poulenc disc it is pure joy. At bargain price it warrants a place not just in any Poulenc lovers collection but in any comprehensive music library. As such we have no qualms about making this our Bargain Choice for May 2018.