Poulenc: Figure humaine
Machaut: Biauté qui toutes autres pere
Machaut: Douce dame jolie
Machaut: Dame, de qui toute ma joie
Image © Papinou – stock.adobe.com
It is particularly fascinating to combine these very different works in one concert, given that they were composed within a few years of each other, and both have a strong connection with the Second World War. Although Duruflé’s mystical sacred work, steeped in plainsong, originated in a commission from the Vichy régime, it was not completed until 1947, and became seen as a memorial to the war dead. Poulenc, by contrast, set the Resistance poetry of Paul Eluard for 12-part unaccompanied choir, in a work that is in turns highly expressive and demonically angry, concluding in a hymn to Liberty.
We also include some hauntingly beautiful works composed some 600 years earlier by Guillaume de Machaut, the composer and poet who dominated 14th century French culture.