Classics with a French Accent

Paris Sunset Panorama by Moyan Brenn

It’s Mau­rice Ravel’s (7 March 1875 – 28 Decem­ber 1937) birth­day tomor­row, and today we present a selec­tion of var­ied French pieces from the Baroque peri­od to the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, includ­ing pieces by Rav­el and a good many oth­er famous names — and some not quite so well known who also have a place in the French clas­si­cal pan­theon.

Some of those less­er-known com­posers include Jean-Joseph Mouret, whose dra­mat­ic works made him very pop­u­lar in the Baroque peri­od, although he has now large­ly fad­ed from view, with the pos­si­ble excep­tion of one piece you’ll recog­nise at once; and Marc-Antoine Char­p­en­tier, anoth­er French Baroque com­pos­er we’ll be hear­ing from today.

We’ll be fea­tur­ing the music of Fran­cis Jean Mar­cel Poulenc (1899–1963), a mem­ber of the French group Les six. He com­posed in a wide range of styles, from solo piano music to full orches­tral music, both sacred and sec­u­lar. Lis­ten out in par­tic­u­lar for the music from his bal­let Les Bich­es.

We’ll also be play­ing the melod­ic and tune­ful work of Gabriel Fau­re — regard­ed very much as a “pop” com­pos­er at the time, much as we might regard Andrew Lloyd-Web­ber or Karl Jenk­ins today — includ­ing some of his pieces for two pianos such the Dol­ly Suite, and his utter­ly beau­ti­ful Requiem.

Plus you’ll hear Joseph Canteloube’s beau­ti­ful Chants d’Auvergne… and did you know that Sir William Wal­ton got sued for copy­right infringe­ment for includ­ing the best-known tune in his music for Olivier’s film of Hen­ry V (1944)?

The image at the top of this arti­cle depicts Paris, a sun­set panora­ma tak­en from the top of Notre Dame cathe­dral. It was shot by Moy­an Brenn and is tak­en from his Flickr Stream. It is used under the terms of the Cre­ative Com­mons C.C. Attr. 2.0 Gen. (CC BY 2.0) license.


Today’s pro­gramme is pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin.  Click here to start your play­er if your brows­er is set up to pass streams to an exter­nal play­er. 

You can also lis­ten via TuneIn, either with their web site or via the TuneIn App.

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