…these recordings were nothing short of "must haves". While – in the intervening years – performance practices have encountered emendation and musical aesthetics have been altered, the immense musical and artistic value of these performances still holds.
Naxos’ first-rate edition of Poulenc’s complete chamber music continues with this very fine collection of shorter pieces and song cycles for voice and small ensemble. Baritone Franck Leguérinel turns in a smashing performance of Le Bal masqué from its manic opening Air de bravoure to the hysterical falsetto antics in the closing Caprice. He’s equally fine in Le Bestiaire, but the cruel vocal line and harmonic acerbities of the Max Jacob songs prove less congenial, though he’s no less stylistically assured.
A cheerful little record, this, of three lightweight works played most exquisitely by very distinguished artists. In fact I am not sure that the chief distinction doesn't emanate from the orchestra: it is a while, as it happens, since I have heard the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and they seem to be playing here better than ever—sweet string tone, pure intonation, finely moulded phrasing, impeccably precise ensemble. Of the three works, the Cimarosa, written for two flutes (in which form it has several times been recorded), is the most attractive for its fluency, its melodiousness (the finale is a real charmer) and its elegant musical form; the Salieri seems by comparison rather carefully devised, though of course it has plenty of entertaining music. Carl Stamitz's piece takes itself more seriously, trying to be symphonic and taking less trouble about being tuneful—though the warm, galant slow movement makes very pleasing listening. The recorded sound is clear and true. (Stanley Sadie, Gramophone)