Poulenc: Gloria; Litanies à la Vierge noire; Stabat Mater

Reviewed on Tue 28 Jan, 2014

Turn to track 7 for something utterly beautiful and mystic, the Litanies of the Black Madonna, set for female voices and orchestra. This radiant and intense piece from 1936 is pure Poulenc and very affecting. The French composer (1899-1963) is heard more pluralistically, if just as true to his self, in the Gloria (1960), exhilarating, joyous, pastoral and witty, underpinned with religious fervour. Patricia Petibon is a touching presence, as she is in the Stabat Mater (1950), Poulenc at his deepest and most wide-ranging in these 12 short movements, from solemn to vehement via easygoing, a shrug of his musical shoulders. Stylistically, Poulenc is as ancient and as modern as he pleases; he takes and he moulds, you can’t second-guess him. He can thrill and move. These dedicated, ripe and affectionate performances are vividly recorded and bring to life ear-catching and inspiring music, and the booklet includes texts and translations.
–Colin Anderson