SeatonMusic entertained by Babar the Elephant

18:30 27 January 2013

Archant

Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) is not a well known composer for most music enthusiasts, but since last Thursday, SeatonMusic and Seaton Primary School pupils know him better, thanks to the music club’s workshop and concert.

The French composer’s output includes piano music, religious works, opera, symphonic works, jazz and chamber music.

Soprano Jacqueline White and pianist Clive Matthews presented a recital of songs and piano music spanning his life, from his early Mouvements perpétuels of 1918 to his song set La Courte Paille, of 1960, together with a commentary putting the works into the context of his life.

From the outset, the musicians delighted their small audience (the weather made it impossible for some members to come!) with Poulenc’s energy and humour.

In the piano Improvisations and the Nocturne, Intermezzo and Novelette, London recitalist Clive Matthews brought out the changing moods of the works, from exuberant and dramatic to reflective.

The song sets, from Vocalise, (which has vowel sounds but no text) to settings of poems by war poet Louis Aragon, novelist Louise de Vilmorin and children’s writer Maurice Carême, have sometimes abstract or surreal texts which might by their very nature have been hard to understand, but opera singer Jacqueline White’s dramatic and exciting performance gave a fascinating insight into the range of Poulenc’s music.

Centre point of the recital was Poulenc’s musical story Babar the Elephant, an unrealistic, but charming story for children with musical interludes depicting the baby elephant at play, travelling by car (!), leaving his family and returning to be married and crowned king!

Not only SeatonMusic now know more about Poulenc, but in the afternoon, Seaton Primary School pupils had had a workshop with the performers, which had been enthusiastically received.

SeatonMusic’s next concert is on Thursday, January 31, at the later time of 8pm.

The young Swedish group The Nordic Ensemble will perform works by Mozart, Schubert, Lars-Eric Larsson and the sextet for wind and piano by Francis Poulenc.

Peter Dawson

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