Aleck Karis delivers some fine performances of Francis Poulenc’s piano music with this release. Karis plays with a lightness of tone and just the right amount of emotional restraint to make these works sound absolutely charming.
And Karis pays just as much attention to the program. The works aren’t arranged chronologically, but rather in a way that has each work setting up the next in sequence.
The album begins with Poulenc’s 1952 Intermède. This sarcastic yet lyrical work sets the tone for the program. It’s followed by the Thème Varié, whose elegant, measured theme still seems good-humored rather than completely serious. It’s neatly contrasted by the 1918 Trois Mouvements Perpétuels that immediately follow.
Another high point of the album is the Fifteen Improvisations. Composed over a 24-year span, these epigrammatic little pieces I found surprisingly consistent in their style.
Karis’ piano is warmly recorded, with a good spacious sound field. And Karis captures Poulenc’s good humor and wit throughout the program.
Francis Poulenc: Music for Piano (1918-1959)
Intermède, Thème Varié, Trois Mouvements Perpétuels, Valse-improvisation sur le nom de BACH, Fifteen Improvisations, Badinage, Mélancolie, Trois Pièces
Aleck Karis, piano