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Poulenc - Gloria & Motets - The Guardian

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The death of a close friend in a car accident in 1936 turned Poulenc back towards his Roman Catholic roots and, in the remaining three decades of his life, triggered a stream of pieces with religious connotations.  These included his final opera, The Dialogue of the Carmelites, and the pieces included on this beautifully produced disc.  The best-known work here is the Gloria, from 1959, in which Stephen Layton and his choir do not attempt to disguise the work’s debt to Stravinsky, and in which Susan Gritton’s soaring soprano adds the finishing touches.  Yet in many ways it is the a cappella pieces that prove the more haunting, especially the four Lenten settings in the Quartre Motets Pour un Temps de Pénitence, and the Christmas set of Quatre Motets Pour le Temps de Noel.  This collection is all exquisitely done, in a slightly cool and detached English choral tradition way, and also impeccably recorded.


Andrew Clements

Poulenc - Gloria & Motets
Hyperion Records CDA67623