Concert champêtre (French:
[kɔ̃sɛʁ ʃɑ̃pɛtʁ], Pastoral Concerto),
FP 49, is a
harpsichord concerto by
Francis Poulenc, which also exists in a version for piano solo with very slight changes in the solo part.
It was written in 1927–28 for the harpsichordist
Wanda Landowska who said she "adored" playing it as it made her "insouciant and gay!"
 Landowska was responsible for the composition of several other new pieces of music for the instrument, notably
Manuel de Falla's
harpsichord concerto and his
El retablo de Maese Pedro (at the premiere of which, at the salon of
Winnaretta Singer, Poulenc and Landowska met for the first time).
After a private performance in which Poulenc played the orchestral parts on the piano, the piece's public premiere was on May 3, 1929 at the
Salle Pleyel in
Paris, with Landowska playing the solo part and the
Orchestre Symphonique de Paris
Pierre Monteux. The work is scored for an orchestra of two
cor anglais, two
side drums (with and without snares),
strings (the usual two sections of
double basses—Poulenc stipulates eight each of first and second violins, and four each of violas, cellos and basses). It is an expression of Poulenc's somewhat maverick compositional style that he pits the harpsichord (even Landowska's
powered-up version) against the combined resources of a full orchestra, while in his
Organ Concerto, he balances the much more powerful organ against only timpani and strings.
The piece is in three movements:
- Allegro molto – Adagio – Allegro molto
- Andante: Mouvement de
- Finale: Presto très gai
The piece alludes to music of the
Baroque period, when the harpsichord was a common instrument, both in terms of its melodic and harmonic language and in its structure. It is for this reason, as well as the plain influence of Stravinsky's music of the same period, that the Concert and its slightly later companion work, the Aubade for piano and orchestra, are regarded as
A typical performance of the Concert champêtre lasts around twenty-five minutes.
Like many harpsichord works from the 20th century, this piece was written for the 'revival'
contemporary harpsichord, with metal frame, pedals, leather plectra and heavy touch, which was prevalent at the time, rather than historic instruments from the 17th and 18th century. However,
Trevor Pinnock has played and recorded it on a 3-manual
Hass instrument with disposition 16' 8' 8 ' 4' 2', lute, 2 buffs, 2 couplers.
A recording of Poulenc himself playing the work, but on the piano, with the
New York Philharmonic conducted by
Dimitri Mitropoulos on 14 November 1948, was issued in 1998 as part of a 10-CD survey of historic broadcast recordings by that orchestra.