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The piano music of Frenchman Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) comes from a bygone era, filled with the song-like charm of the Belle Epoque and influenced by popular trends of the day in Gay Paree. His persona was both rascal and saint, displaying seemingly contradictory facets of his life: a bon vivant with a deep inner spirituality informed by his Roman Catholic faith.

This album brings together his most popular works for piano; the witty Trois Mouvements Perpetuels, with the quintessential characteristics which are further delved into in his Three Novelettes and Three Intermezzos.

Young Singaporean pianist Wang Congyu studied in Paris with Gabriel Tacchino, the composer's only formal student. His playing is elegant and refined, an excellent introduction to Poulenc's uniquely personal sound world.

The 15 Improvisations are delectable and include a waltz in homage to Schubert and a heartfelt homage to songstress Edith Piaf.

Poulenc's genuine gift of melody comes across most sympathetically in Melancolie, which at five minutes is his longest piano piece, and the chanson Les Chemins De L'Amour (The Paths Of Love). The latter was never notated, but improvised from the song itself.

Dr Chang Tou Liang

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