Le Chant de la Mine
Sarah Laulan (soprano), Sébastian Obrecht (tenor); Orchestre Valentiana/Nicholas Bucher
Indésens INDE120 51:15 mins
Composed in 1956, Eugène Bozza’s remarkable Le Chant de la Mine (The Song of the Mine) was until last year all but forgotten. Happily, Nicolas Bucher and the Orchestre Valentiana (Bozza was former musical director of the Conservatoire de Valenciennes) have breathed life once more into this exhilarating oratorio for orchestra, choir, soloists and narrator, with a new recording full of life and colour.
Setting a text by Belgian poet José Bruyr, the oratorio presents a snapshot of life in a mining town, exploring the catastrophe and endurance that mark this close community. Bozza’s score is colourful and dramatic, his orchestral writing is at times reminiscent of Stravinsky’s The Firebird while Debussy (particularly ‘Sirènes’) is closely referenced in Bozza’s scoring for female choir. The Orchestre Valentiana gives a commendable performance (with some particularly beautiful woodwind playing) while the inclusion of the Polish Miners’ Choir of Douai as ‘the miners’ chorus’ lends the disc a raw and moving vitality. However, the female chorus sounds somewhat stretched at times with some shaky intonation, and a copy of the libretto (plus translation) in the sleeve notes would much enhance the listening experience. All the same, this is an admirable endeavour and marks a welcome return of Bozza’s intriguing score.