Saturday, September 27, 2008

Poulenc has been cheering me up.

The past couple weeks, we Allegrans have been digging deep into Poulenc's Figure humaine, a piece that sort of blows my mind. We've sung a lot of Poulenc-- the Gloria, the Mass in G, Un soir de neige, and Litanies a la vierge noire all spring to my mind immediately as pieces we've performed in recent years, and I'm probably missing some-- and to some extent we have a good feel for that unique Poulenc sound that's so rich and weird all at once. But still, Figure humaine is a real challenge. The piece is so darned awesome, though, that the work is fun.

This has been a dark couple of weeks. It's raining and grim all weekend in Boston, and I feel like I've heard nothing lately but crappy news about how the world economy is mush and so forth. And at this stage in my learning the music, it's an intellectual exercise, something challenging and diverting and fun that can take me outside of my own worry-steeped brain. We all know that listening to music can be transportive and moving, but learning music can have that effect as well. I've been really glad to devote the time to Poulenc, who, when he was writing this in Nazi-occupied France, frankly had much bigger problems than I do. I'll bet composing this was freeing for him too.

The movement I've been enjoying the most lately has been the 5th, Riant du ciel et des planetes-- Eluard's poetry in this one is so sardonic, and the music is so glib and stark, that it's been good fun and seems to suit my mood. (At least I THINK the poetry seems sardonic-- my French dates back to high school and is nothing near fluent!)

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