The contents of this little release are pretty much what the title suggests: what you get are piano versions of songs by Francis Poulenc and French pop vocalist Edith Piaf. This sounds a bit contrived, but it works well for several reasons. First, Poulenc entitled one of his short piano pieces "Hommage à Edith Piaf," and the two might have met; they certainly had the filmmaker Jean Cocteau as a mutual friend. Second, there's more than a bit of French popular song in Poulenc, especially in the harmonies of his songs. Third, you might compare, as annotator Damian Fowler does in the booklet notes, the melancholy tone of Piaf's songs with a certain layer of Poulenc's music resulting from frustrations due to his status as a gay man. Fourth, and most important, the stylistic boundary is intentionally blurred. For Poulenc what you get are basically transcriptions; these are done by the pianist, Antonio Pompa-Baldi, himself. But for Piaf you get "elaborations"; these are by Roberto Piana. These are harmonically denser than the originals, but retain their emotional flavor. They might be compared to George Gershwin's instrumental Song-Book, mostly minus the jazz, and they're intriguing at the very least because no one else has done anything much like them before. The concept is perfectly well executed by Pompa-Baldi. It's the kind of thing that surely depends on whether you accept the basic emotional equation. But try it; you might like it.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Deux poèmes de Louis Aragon|
|Huit chansons polonaises|