‘Irrepressibly gorgeous’ – London Conchord Ensemble releases the complete chamber music of Francis Poulenc to critical acclaim

London Conchord Ensemble's most recent release on the Champs Hill Records label explores the complete chamber music of the French composer, Francis Poulenc. Those who will have caught the ensemble's recent performance of the Poulenc Sextet at the Wigmore Hall for BBC Radio 3 will have a sense of the affinity that this ensemble have with these works.

You can hear excerps of the disc here - www.champshillrecords.co.uk/cddetail.php?cat_number=CHRCD028

Stephen Pritchard

The Observer, Sunday 19 February 2012

Rumbustious and playful, Francis Poulenc is deemed a lesser figure among the greats of 20th-century music but it's a mistake to underestimate him. His work is no mere froth; there's a smoky, autumnal sadness to his harmonic writing, a lingering regret beneath the joie de vivre, particularly in the intimacy of his chamber music. The London Conchord Ensemble understand this completely, working their magic in the bittersweet sonatas for piano and cello, violin, flute, oboe and clarinet, and romping through ensemble works large and small, including his Elégie for horn and piano (written in memory of Dennis Brain) and the irrepressibly gorgeous trio for piano, oboe and bassoon.

Paul Driver

The Sunday Times, Sunday, 26 February 2012

It’s as a chamber composer that Poulenc seems likely to remain most present, because (like his fellow sonataist Hindemith) he wrote so much and judged its usefulness so adroitly. Clarinettists, flautists and oboists invariably get round to his sole sonata for their instrument, as do violinists and cellists, but odd college groupings are admirably served: there’s an early Sonata for Horn, Trumpet and Trombone, a fine Sextet for piano and winds, not to mention a usefully perky Sonata for Two Clarinets. No longueurs on these excellent discs: Poulenc’s invention is always sprightly, and the performers are vivified by it; though an outstanding item is the Elégie for Horn and Piano, in memory of Dennis Brain.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Musical Pointers, February 2012

An exemplary collection of Poulenc's chamber music (1922-62) recorded 2001-2011. Francis Poulenc lived from 1899 – 1963; his dates, not given with the discs, are important in connection with his personality and career, which are well summarised in an excellent essay by Daniel Jaffe. The cover photo of the young Poulenc captures his wistful vulnerability. Poulenc was himsef a fine performer of hsi own music; I was privilieged to hear him with his regular partner Pierre Bernac at one of Myra Hess's famous National gallery concerts in wartime... Poulenc's moods are reflected in his music, and range from "insouciant mischief and wit" to darker feelings and depression to be found works dedicated to memories of numerous deceased persons, especially close friends such as a fellow composer P-O Ferroud. That range is expressed in the variety of these pieces which can be enjoyed in the given track order or otherwise by choice. A few a day may be best. Although recorded over a decade, and with different engineers, there is a general consistency and the supportive acoustic of the Champs Hill studio plays a positive part. There are other collections; a French set [EMI CZS7627362] with performers including Alan Civil & Sir Yehudi Menuhin together with eminent French stars (Février, Debost & Bourgue and another pair of discs from Rogé, Portal, Bourgue, Gallois, Cazalet & Wallez [London 421581-2] but I am sure you won't go wrong with this newest collection.

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