Figure Humaine (2011)


Swedish Radio Choir

Peter Dijkstra

To issue a CD of Poulenc's most important choral work is to make a huge statement, and to take something of a risk. Why does one do it? Aren't there enough recordings already?

Having said that, in my case it's simply dire necessity. This work is so beautiful, so impressive, and so important to the canon of twentieth-century choral music, that I cannot resist having a say of my own. I do believe that Poulenc´s 12-part Figure humaine is the most beautiful and impressive a cappella choral work that I know. The poet Eluard and composer Poulenc formed a perfect match. Eluard's poignant and sinister surrealistic texts are very moving, and their wonderfully expressive language depicts the horrors of the Second World War. It is without doubt a harrowing work, with a pièce de résistance to end: the eighth and final movement Liberté. In the most beautiful words, it expresses the omnipresent urge for liberty. Poulenc's setting is simply wonderful, with a gigantic buildup to the concluding, ultimate cry of LIBERTÉ!

It is a great joy to perform this sort of music with my Swedish Radio Choir. The ensemble is a very strong group, and most eager to stretch its boundaries. The strength of the group is not merely the sum of its individual qualities. At the moment when these qualities merge into one, the group develops still further, and the ensemble attains a higher elevation. However important blending of the sound may be, it may not be at the expense of individual colour and personality. Choirs are frequently recorded from a considerable distance, perhaps to improve the blend. I often find the resulting sound to be distant, and detrimental to the clarity of the text. The recording technique of Channel Classics seeks to establish a synthesis, combining directness and clarity with spatial effect. This is exactly my own approach to choral timbre: the choir must achieve the greatest unity and blend, but also allow space for individual colour. It is at such moments that the listener feels personally involved, and the music gains a human aspect. I am convinced that this is the sound Poulenc had in mind when he wrote Figure humaine.

Peter Dijkstra

Read more

Peter Dijkstra

Peter Dijkstra,born in the Netherlands in1978,is one of the leading choral conductors of our time.He comes from a musical family,and as a boy soprano he was in demand as a soloist, for example in opera productions such as Die Zauberflöte with The Netherlands Opera.He studie dchoral and orchestral conducting and voice at the conservatories of The Hague,Cologne and Stockholm,and graduated with honours.Peter Dijkstra was awarded the Kersjes-Van de Groene kam Prize for orchestral conductors in2002,and when he went on to win the Eric Ericson Award 2003 in Stockholm his international career was launched.He now works regularly with choirs such as The Netherlands Chamber Choir,bbc Singers, rias Chamber Choir Berlin,CollegiumVocale Gent and The Danish Radio Choir.Dijkstra is in command of a broad repertoire ranging from early music to premiers of newly composed works.But he is also a welcome guest conductor with orchestras like the SymphonyOrchestra of the Bavarian Radio,Munich RadioOrchestra, dso Berlin,Sinfonietta Amsterdam,Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra and the JapanPhilharmonic.He also enjoys working with period instrument orchestras such as the Akademiefu?r Alte Musik Berlin and Concerto Köln. In 2005,Peter Dijkstra was appointed artistic director of the Choir of the Bavarian Radio inMunich,where he collaborates with conductors including Mariss Jansons,Nikolaus Harnoncourt,Riccardo Muti and Claudio Abbado. 

Swedish Radio Choir

The Swedish Radio Choir is a professional classical choir. It is funded by Sveriges Radio, the public radio broadcasting company of Sweden. The choir consists of 32 singers, currently led by conductor Peter Dijkstra. Since 1979 it has been based at the Berwaldhallen in Stockholm.
Read more

Figure Humaine (2011)


Swedish Radio Choir

Der Chor gibt die jeweiligen Stimmungen der Sätze oder Passagen angemessen wieder: tänzerisch in 'Marie' ('Sept Chansons'), nachdenklich in 'De grandes cuillers de neige' ('Un soir de neige') oder hämisch in 'Riant du ciel et des planètes' ('Figure humaine'). Die Intonation ist makellos, der Chorklang angenehm weich und harmonisch, die Phrasierungen stimmig und rund.


De opname is van bekende Channel-Classics-klasse, de uitvoerenden (..) van wereldniveau onder leiding van Peter Dijkstra. (...) Nogmaals hulde!

    Het Parool

Onder leiding van de jonge, talentvolle Nederlandse chef-dirigent Peter Dijkstra zingt het Zweeds Radio Koor vier ronduit schitterende koorwerken van Poulenc. Tegelijkertijd laat het horen waarom het geldt als één van de beste kamerkoren ter wereld. (...) Meesterwerken.

    De Volkskrant -

De opname is op het eerste gehoor confronterend direct. Maar het komt de zeggingskracht van de muziek ten goede. De Zweedse zangers leveren ongelooflijk knap gezongen uitvoeringen, waarin de harmonische ontwikkelingen zo zijn gedrapeerd en gestapeld dat er fantastische sonoriteiten ontstaan, die soms zelfs grenzen aan rauwe, bijna uitgekreten spreekkoren. (...) een hartstochtelijke ode aan de vrijheid.

    De Gelderlander

De Nederlandse koordirigent Peter Dijkstra kneedt het Swedish Radio Choir tot topprestaties (...). De opname is heel direct, maar dat maakt het alleen maar spannender (...) -

The ethereal solo contributions of soprano Jessica Bäcklund and alto Christiane Höjlund in the ‘Agnus Dei’ deserve special mention. (...) Channel Classic’s superb DSD recording made in the Musikaliska, Stockholm presents the choir in a spacious acoustic that accommodates the huge dynamic range of the singing without strain. (...) This challenging, but rewarding disc is confidently recommended. Performance ***** Sonics*****

    BBC Music -

The Mass, performed with unusual power as well as the expected gentle lucidity, gives this CD an arresting start (...) To have all four works you can confidently choose this new release.


Ribbons of joy fly brightly through the Gloria and Sanctus of the Mass from 1937. (…) Peter Dijkstra keeps the music moving and flowing (…)

    Classics Today -

The 35-voice choir makes a suitably full-bodied sound, yet keeps the individual lines clean and clear and the textures rich and vibrant, confirming once again the reasons that make us not only so happy to listen but that also make us want to sing. Channel Classics' Jared Sacks has been recording choirs for a long time--and as one of the first to fully appreciate, understand, and utilize the potential of digital recording, he consistently produces demonstration-quality recordings that present the performers in an acoustic setting that's most favorable to their art and to their music. This is no exception--and although there are many alternatives in the CD catalog--from Accentus, The Sixteen, The Netherlands Chamber Choir, to name a few--they lack just that slight, vibrant edge and exuberance characterized in these performances, which should find a place in every choral music lover's library. Highly recommended.

    International Record Review

This is a first-rate disc of some of Poulenc’s finest music. (...) The radiance and resonance of the singing is altogether exceptional and Dijkstra’s conducting moulds the music lovingly but never indulgently. (...) it’s great to hear Poulenc’s tricky choral writing rendered with such control and beauty of tone. (...)

Figure Humaine (2011)


Swedish Radio Choir

Cables: van den Hul
Digital Converters: Grimm DSD A/D converter
Mastering Engineer: Jared Sacks
Mastering Equipment: B+W 803 diamond series
Microphones: Bruel & Kjaer, Schoeps
Mixing Board: Rens Heijnis custom made
Producer: Hein Dekker
Recording Engineer: Hein Dekker, Jared Sacks
Recording location: Stockholm, Sweden
Recording Software: Pyramix
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD64
Speakers: Audiolab

Quality & Channel Selection
Select Quality and Channels to calculate the price below More info


  • DXD
  • 64
  • 128
  • 256
  • 512


This album is available as ST+MCH download (Stereo + Multichannel)
All lower DSD rates included with an active NativeDSD Plus subscription. Learn more.
Album Download duration price
31411: Figure Humaine
00:58:01   Select quality & channels above
Mass In G-Major - Kyrie
00:03:53   Select quality & channels above
Mass In G-Major - Gloria
00:03:59   Select quality & channels above
Mass In G-Major - Sanctus
00:02:32   Select quality & channels above
Mass In G-Major - Benedictus
00:03:05   Select quality & channels above
Mass In G-Major - Agnus Dei
00:05:05   Select quality & channels above
Sept Chansons - I La blanche neige
00:01:01   Select quality & channels above
Sept Chansons - II A peine défigurée
00:01:46   Select quality & channels above
Sept Chansons - III Par une nuit nouvelle
00:01:29   Select quality & channels above
Sept Chansons - IV Tous les droits
00:02:51   Select quality & channels above
Sept Chansons - V Belle et ressemblante
00:02:21   Select quality & channels above
Sept Chansons - VI Marie
00:02:19   Select quality & channels above
Sept Chansons - VII Luire
00:02:04   Select quality & channels above
Un Soir De Neige - I De grandes cuillers de neige?
00:01:26   Select quality & channels above
Un Soir De Neige - II La bonne neige?
00:01:03   Select quality & channels above
Un Soir De Neige - III Bois meurtri?
00:02:03   Select quality & channels above
Un Soir De Neige - IV La nuit la froid la solitude?
00:01:01   Select quality & channels above
Figure Humaine - I De tous les printemps du monde?
00:03:11   Select quality & channels above
Figure Humaine - II En chantant les servantes s?élancent
00:02:14   Select quality & channels above
Figure Humaine - III Aussi bas que le silence?
00:01:44   Select quality & channels above
Figure Humaine - IV Toi ma patiente?
00:02:08   Select quality & channels above
Figure Humaine - V Riant du ciel et des planètes
00:01:00   Select quality & channels above
Figure Humaine - VI Le jour m?étonne et la nuit me fait peur ?
00:01:46   Select quality & channels above
Figure Humaine - VII La menace sous le ciel rouge?
00:02:44   Select quality & channels above
Figure Humaine - VIIIi Liberté
00:05:16   Select quality & channels above

User Reviews

Other albums from this label