- 01 – Francis Poulenc Sinfonietta FP 141 – 1. Allegro con fuoco
- 02 – Francis Poulenc Sinfonietta FP 141 – 2. Molto vivace
- 03 – Francis Poulenc Sinfonietta FP 141 – 3. Andante cantabile
- 04 – Francis Poulenc Sinfonietta FP 141 – 4. Tres vite et tres gai
- 05 – Francis Poulenc Piano Concerto in C-sharp minor FP 146 – 1. Allegretto
- 06 – Francis Poulenc Piano Concerto in C-sharp minor FP 146 – 2. Andante con moto
- 07 – Francis Poulenc Piano Concerto in C-sharp minor FP 146 – 3. Rondeau a la francaise
- 08 – Charles Koechlin Vers la voute etoilee – nocturne pour orchestre op. 129 – 1
- 08 – Charles Koechlin Vers la voute etoilee – nocturne pour orchestre op. 129 – 2
- 09 – Charles Koechlin Sur les Flots lointains – Poeme symphonique op. 130
Artur Pizarro & Bamberger Symphoniker,
dir. Thomas Rösner
Following the success of Artur Pizarro’s recordings of Rachmaninoff’s Complete Piano Music on Odradek, the “poet amongst pianists” returns with Poulenc’s Piano Concerto. The last of Poulenc’s concertos, this work is jaunty and playful whilst exuding an irresistible Romanticism. Poulenc’s Sinfonietta is a full-scale symphony in all but name, its self-deprecating title a reflection of the composer’s sense of humour and the work’s colourful, urbane character.
“The captivating Poulenc piano concerto… will put a smile on any face… The Bamberger Symphony play well for Thomas Rösner.”
Norman Lebrecht / January 2020
“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.”
“… the Bamberg musicians play with a sensuality that is second to none. Both recordings take Koechlin’s works to a new level of interpretation.”
WDR Radio / February 2020
The orchestra is known for its bright strings and velvety woodwinds. Conductor Thomas Rösner ensures the best sound balance and transparency. He has a penchant for French repertoire and a lot of experience with orchestras from France, yes, he even assisted the great Georges Prêtre in Vienna. However, Rösner’s recording does not have the temperament here.
With so much attractive music, one may wonder why this concerto has remained so unknown. Pianist Artur Pizarro speculates in an interview on Facebook. The work, which is only 20 minutes long and technically not too demanding, is nothing to shine about, but still requires intensive coordination between the conductor and the orchestra.
This work was undoubtedly done in Bamberg. Artur Pizarro’s interpretation, as round and routine as it is, lacks a bit of wit and elegance, as the pianist and Poulenc expert Eric le Sage, for example, shows.
So if you have to live with small deficits in the case of Poulenc's, the two works by Charles Koechlin, which are collected on the CD, are adorable. Koechlin was a magician of sound and instrumentation. Transparency, beauty and traceability are the main goals that he has pursued in his music. It often points to the mystical, because the deeply devout composer studied astronomy in depth.
“Vers la voûte étoilée” - “In the sight of the starry sky” dates from 1933. The piece was only premiered in 1980, 30 years after Koechlin’s death. Not only this work, but also the orchestra miniature “Sur les flots lointains” - “On distant waves”, the Bamberg musicians play with a sensuality that is second to none. Both recordings take Koechlin’s works to a new level of interpretation.
“Rösner writes in the booklet: ‘Koechlin turns out to be a tireless sound magician who does not shy away from extreme instrumental sonorities and dynamics. This creates completely unfamiliar and partially organic sound mixes, the exact nature of which can only be clarified in detail with the use of the score.’ This is exactly what he convincingly realises in his interpretations.”
Pizzicato - Remy Franck / February 2020
“Under the musical direction of Thomas Rösner, the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra presents a CD with an interesting programme of French orchestral music of the 20th century. Rösner’s account of the Sinfonietta by Francis Poulenc is colourful and lively. The Piano Concerto, first performed by Poulenc himself in 1950, is played by Artur Pizarro, but the performance cannot keep up with the Rogé/Dutoit recording nor with that of LeSage/Denève. This is primarily due to the diffuse and not very transparent sound recording. The Decca technicians have integrated Rogé’s piano much better into the orchestral sound and captured the orchestral sound more slenderly.
Overall, Rösner succeeds better in the two Koechlin works because they demand less elegance, which the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra does not show enough of in Poulenc.
Vers la voûte étoilée op. 129 and Sur les flots lointains op. 130 live from other sounds, as conductor Rösner writes in the booklet: “Koechlin turns out to be a tireless sound magician who does not shy away from extreme instrumental sonorities and dynamics. This creates completely unfamiliar and partially organic sound mixes, the exact nature of which can only be clarified in detail with the use of the score.” This is exactly what he convincingly realises in his interpretations.
“The Portuguese pianist Artur Pizarro is exactly the right interpreter to keep the melodious and at the same time theatrical liveliness of the music in shape, to breathe tension, passion… Thomas Rösner not only knows how to describe this music cleverly, but also to realise it in a fascinating and breathtakingly beautiful way. The performers therefore honour the title of the album.”
Onlinemerker - Dr. Ingobert Waltenberger / December 2019
“The Bamberg Symphony Orchestra under the musical direction of Thomas Rösner will present a fantastically played CD with French orchestral music from the 20th century that has been superbly realized. Francis Poulenc's "Sinfonietta" is a first-class discovery. Written on behalf of BBC Radio Three in 1947, the almost 30-minute work exudes light-footed post-war humor and a "self-deprecating sense of humor." The evoked musical images are charmingly poetry of cityscapes, all senses delightful walks in a relaxed atmosphere. Melodies and swinging motifs lick or hurry through alleys, over bridges, in cafes and bistros. The world thus constructed is bustling with life and holding together in a playful way. The (collective and individual) happiness felt after regained freedom is deep. Everything breathes fragrant spring, the buds shoot up into the neoclassical sky, hints of Mozart or Tchaikovsky round off the urban soundscape. Why Poulenc titled this great symphonic work "Sinfonietta" can only be interpreted as an act of joyful arrogance.
The piano concerto in C sharp minor, premiered by Poulenc himself on the piano in 1950 (Charles Munch conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra), was also a commissioned work. The musical pendulum in the light-flooded cathedral of French post-romanticism swings from the east (Rachmaninov, Shostakovich, Stravinksy) across the Great Pond (Gershwin) back to the Seine (Saint-Säens) with a little dangle to Italy. In the finale, Brazilian forged a tasty and powerful alliance with the sailor's song “Á la Claire Fontaine”. The Portuguese pianist Artur Pizarro is exactly the right interpreter to keep the melodious and at the same time theatrical liveliness of the music in shape, to breathe tension, passion and at the same time a loose weightlessness.
The so intense and yet volatile French elegant perfume des Poulenc is juxtaposed with two small samples / symphonic poems by Charles Koechlin from 1933 : "Vers la Voûte étoilée" Op. 129 and "Sur les flots lointains en collaboration avec Catherine Urner" Op. 130. The Alsatian, 20 years older, had Gabriel Fauré as a teacher. In the choice of compositional means, Koechlin is much more creative and original than Poulenc was. Koechlin pays homage to the starry sky in polytonal flashes, while impressionistic shimmer is reflected in imaginary wide floods.
The program is audibly a deep concern for the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra and Thomas Rösner . As a skilful animator, Rösner converts the mercury flea circus on small notes into a buzzing swarm of fireflies. In his foreword, Rösner breaks a lance for Koechlin. He speaks of incomparable sound spaces and sees Koechlin as a “tireless sound magician who does not shy away from extreme instrumental sonorities and dynamics. This creates completely unfamiliar and partially organic sound mixes, the exact nature of which can only be clarified in detail with the use of the score. And best of all: Thomas Rösner not only knows how to describe this music cleverly, but also to realize it in a fascinating and breathtakingly beautiful way. The performers therefore honour the title of the album.”