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Francis Poulenc: Quelle aventure!

Ever fallen down the YouTube rabbit hole? You know, you innocently start looking for something and three hours later you look up from your iPad, having forsaken all social niceties (and biological necessities), and wonder what happened to the afternoon? I don’t know who has the time to load every video ever made in the history of media, but I for one am thankful that it’s all there. I stumbled across this clip as I was preparing a lecture for Paris Between the Wars, a class I occasionally teach at Juilliard. The video includes a short interview with Poulenc (en français), followed by a performance, with the composer at the piano accompanying the divine Denise Duval—Poulenc’s frequent muse—singing two songs from La court paille. How educational to see the composer himself playing the music he wrote, with the singer who originated the piece. Enough said. “Quelle aventure!” starts at 2:55 if you want to skip ahead, but don’t! I love the footage of them turning the pages and Duval purring “Quelle aventure” to Poulenc like it’s a seduction. And you can listen to the entirety of La courte paille—all seven songs—in about eight minutes. To paraphrase Erik Satie, one of Poulenc’s idols, “A composer shouldn’t take more of the audience’s time than is absolutely necessary.”


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