New London Orchestra, Ronald Corp (conductor)
Although Francis Poulenc and Reynaldo Hahn were born twenty-five years apart they had a great deal in common. They were very Parisian, even though Hahn first saw the light of day in Venezuela, and were popular guests in fashionable drawing rooms. They adored the theatre and wrote a number of ballets, operas and operettas. They both, too, had what a more polite age euphemistically described as ‘Greek’ tastes, though in Poulenc’s case these went no further than burly policemen, while in Hahn’s they included Marcel Proust, the greatest French writer of the early twentieth century. Like Hahn, Poulenc composed many songs and there is no doubt that he ranks among the finest writers of mélodies. Neither of these two composers wrote much in the way of purely symphonic music. Poulenc’s Sinfonietta is a rare example of his ventures into this domain, and the Aubade is typical in that, while technically a concerto for piano and eighteen instruments, it can also be played as a ballet.