on 2 June 2011
Not to put too fine a point on it, Poulenc composed everything at the piano. For unaccompanied choral music this can create quite startling problems of ensemble for the singers, with essentially random harmony and counterpoint. One shouldn't make these out as flaws though, for the results, when performed with as effortless perfection as this, are wonderful. The little devotional pieces are enchanting, but the magnificent Figure Humaine, a suite of surrealist wartime laments and love poems by Paul Valery, is quite overwhelming. This is one of those pieces where Poulenc quite simply rose above himself, who knows how, and became a great composer in the service of a suffering France. A performance from which tears are hard to withhold.
on 23 February 2011
I had never heard any of Francis Poulenc's unaccompanied voice compositions before, so it was a real delight to hear Tenebrae with Nigel Short. A perfect performance - the choir has a really wonderful sound, soft yet strong. Thank you !
on 11 November 2013
One of the best recordings of Poulenc's sacred choral music out there. The 4 Petites Prières, in my opinion, are the gems on this album, but Figure humaine, and especially Liberté, are near-perfect. French pronunciation is fine throughout, but there are some obvious English 'La's floating around ('La menace', 'La nuit, le froid, la solitude) but it doesn't really matter anyway when the singing and direction are as good as this- if you want pure French, go for the Accentus, but if that doesn't bother you get this. Or both. You can never have enough Poulenc.