Poulenc_Sacred and Secular Choral Music
This reissue celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Netherlands Chamber Choir. What gloriously warm and uplifting music this is – and such a substantial part of Poulenc’s output. While fiendishly difficult to perform, it is immensely rewarding to listen to. Although Poulenc demands Herculean intonational feats from his singers, such was his skill in creating transparent textures (the result of studying Renaissance models such as Monteverdi and Victoria) that no detail is obscured, even when the score expands to a dozen or more parts.
Ericson draws superb singing, whether in the Romanesque devotional motets (the last penitential ‘Tenebrae factae sunt’ providing an irresistible glimpse of harmonic bliss) or the robust earthiness of the early Chanson à boire. The two centrepieces are Un soir de neige and the wartime Figure humaine, Poulenc’s ‘patriotic duty to France’. Here, though, the microphones struggle to cope with such fervent singing, with some compression to the sound, especially at the spectacular climax of ‘Liberté’ with its top E for the brave solitary soprano.