Canteloube: Chants d’Auvergne (excerpts)

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COMPOSERS: Canteloube
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Songs of the Auvergne
WORKS: Chants d’Auvergne (excerpts)
PERFORMER: Véronique GensOrchestra National de LilleJean Claude Casadesus
CATALOGUE NO: 8.557491
The only one of Canteloube’s works

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to be regularly recorded, the Songs

of the Auvergne certainly do not lack

representation in the catalogue.

Arranged between 1923 and 1955 in a

lush idiom that occasionally possesses

a post-Massenet glamour, they lie at

the other extreme from, say, Bartók’s

punchier recreations of the folk music

of his native Hungary. That’s not to deny the very

real charm of a piece like the

ubiquitous ‘Baïlèro’, which possesses

a still, ecstatic quality all its own.

Canteloube’s mastery of orchestral

texture is readily apparent, and

though all the notes are present and

correct here from the Lille orchestra

under Jean-Claude Casadesus there’s

a lack of warmth (also reflected

in the recording) that does them

fewer favours than the Lamoureux

Orchestra under Jacquillat on EMI

or the Tenerife Symphony under

Víctor Pablo Perez on Auvidis.

Véronique Gens’s light, delicate

instrument has sex appeal but not the

sensuality and musical sophistication

of Victoria de los Angeles, nor the

brightness and panache of María

Bayo – both of whom perform,

as Gens does, a close-to-complete

set (De los Angeles is even closer).

But despite the claim for Gens as a

native Auvergnat – her birthplace

was actually Orléans – it’s the two

Spanish sopranos who give this

music the greater character and noteby-

note attention, with the palm

awarded to De los Angeles for sheer

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beauty of tone. George Hall