Le Bestiaire, by Francis Poulenc
Le Bestiaire is Francis Poulenc's first song cycle, composed in 1919 on the text of poet Guillaume Apollinaire. The poetry of "The Bestiary" was originally published in 1911 with an accompanying woodblock print of each animal. Poulenc takes six of these short poems and connects them together through a series of miniature songs that playfully contrast one to the next.
The listener may be enchanted by the spinning of the vocal line, only to have an unexpectedly exuberant piano postlude jump in to break the moment. I hope you enjoy this performance I gave with pianist Kuang-Hao Huang from FCE's 2019 concert, What a Zoo!
In honor of Lori Laitman, who will appear as a guest panelist on tomorrow night's episode of The Art Song Hour, we give you this November 16, 2019 recording of her song, I Am in Need of Music.
Elizabeth Bishop's poem is set here for soprano, mezzo-soprano, and piano. The vocal lines dovetail together and apart throughout, often echoing one another or anticipating the other's text. Laitman's writing is fluid and lyrical, beautifully reflecting the water imagery of the poem. Just as the voices are dying away in the final measures, you hear the primary melody return one last time in the upper octave of the piano, reminiscent of a lullaby easing us to sleep. Enjoy!
Hello, and welcome to the blog! We are Fourth Coast Ensemble, Chicago's classical vocal quartet. Join a different member of our ensemble each week for insights into our favorite art songs, links to archival and new recordings, and reflections on why we value and continue to come back to this musical medium. We proudly present, your weekly #artsongfix!