Francis Poulenc was a man of contradictions; on one hand the quintessential cosmopolitan Parisian, on the other a man with a deep-rooted spirituality. In his Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani Poulenc epitomises this duality, alternating between moments of high stakes drama, thoughtful tranquility and light-hearted melodies; between sacred and irreverent. Likewise the Stabat Mater, written in memory of a close friend, embraces both the light and dark; solemn, grounded in Poulenc's devout Catholicism, and yet peppered with animated contrasting passages and even occasional levity. First though is his Piano Concerto – moving between lush sentimentalism and exuberance, it is an affectionate musical postcard from Paris for a post-war American audience.
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