Poulenc has a keen melodic sense that puts him apart somewhat from the others, in that there are distinctive contours to how his melodies spin out within the very French harmonic-modern context.
You can hear his gift in this realm quite readily in his songs. Sophie Karthäuser and Eugene Asti, soprano and piano, give us a vivid sense of his lyrical, horizontal brilliance in the album Poulenc, Les anges musiciens - Mélodies (Harmonia Mundi 902179). We get 37 songs in all, sung and played beautifully.
Ms. Karthäuser has both dramatic impact and lyric beauty; Eugene Asti supplies a poetically astute reading of the piano accompaniment. Altogether this album gives us a full sampling of Poulenc's songwriting, from the flippant and quasi-vernacular to the dramatically declamatory and/or a rarified liquidity.
This is a very well-performed volume of some Poulenc essentials. No Poulenc appreciation is complete without exposure to his achievement in song form. This one gives it to us with consummate artistry. Definitely recommended.