From the Naxos Blog: From bile to bravura. Musical temperaments.

March 03, 2023


When I was a teenager, I would occasionally try and bash through Poulenc’s Thème varié on my long-suffering upright piano. I loved the lilt of the original theme on which the variations are based. Here it is:

Thème (8.553931)

But what engaged me more was how the subsequent variations went beyond the usual melodic and rhythmic manipulations to portray human moods in various temperamental makeovers. It seemed to me that this must be quite difficult to achieve: to capture a person’s intangible character, rather than develop an abstraction, paint a scene, or portray a physical event. Here are three of Poulenc’s short temperamental sketches from his set of variations: a trader in sarcasm; a maker of mockery; and a chatterbox. Continue reading and listening at