Graham Johnson is simply the greatest living authority on French song; an artist whose innate feeling for the music is combined with prodigious scholarship. He also has the ability to discover and nurture singers who here prove to be matchless performers of this repertoire.
Following his many wonderful recordings in Hyperion’s French Song Edition, Johnson turns to the complete songs of Francis Poulenc, released also to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the composer’s death. Each of the four CDs presents a programme of songs in an order that is chronological for that disc alone—signifying four different journeys through the composer’s career. Disc 1 features a substantial appearance, recorded in 1977, of Pierre Bernac (Poulenc’s long-term collaborator)—narrating L’histoire de Babar, a story known to children throughout the world. The singers include Dame Felicity Lott, acclaimed as one of the foremost performers of Poulenc, and many other stars from previous recordings.
The greatest hero of the set remains Graham Johnson himself. As well as writing the booklet notes and organising the whole adventure, Johnson proves himself to be the most sensitive and accomplished of accompanists, ensuring that every single song is a partnership between singer and pianist, with chemistry that flows both ways. MusicWeb