> Canteloube - Emmanuel [RB]: Classical CD Reviews- Aug 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Joseph CANTELOUBE (1879-1957)
Songs of the Auvergne - series 1-5 (23 songs) (1923-30)
Maurice EMMANUEL (1862-1938)

Chansons Bourguignonnes du Pays de Beaune

Dawn Upshaw (soprano)
Orchestre de l'Opéra National de Lyon/Kent Nagano
rec 1 Apr 1994, Auditorium Maurice Ravel, Lyon; 28-31 Aug 1996, Opéra National de Lyon
ERATO 0927 44656 2 [103.42]


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Dawn Upshaw's voice has that innocent wondering vulnerability all too little known amongst the knowing and blowsy ranks of the majority of operatic divas. Upshaw's approach is a shade more mature than Davrath (my first recommendation - on Vanguard - despite its saturated sound colours). She has an alto accentuation and a darker tincture than Davrath's demoiselle tone. This is well illustrated by a comparison of Upshaw and Davrath in L'Aïo dè rotso in which Upshaw’s warm lower register has the benefit of outstanding orchestral playing. Superb shepherd fifing from the Lyon woodwind principals - seething with eccentric character. The same qualities light up the playing in Ound'onouren Gorda? and the various Bourrées. There is some astoundingly sensitive clarinet playing in N'aï pas iéu de mio.

I have not compared times but Upshaw leans towards very slow tempi in the andante songs (of which there are many). The classic Baïlèro is sweetly handled. The effect is enhanced by Upshaw's voice switching from left to right channel to mimic the bergère hillside dialogue patent in the sung words.

Upshaw can still show a pretty pair of heels for example in Chut Chut where the smile in her voice is unmistakable as also in superb Hé Beyla-z-y dau fé with its spirited donkey bray and real kick. The summer ooze rather moderates the effect in the dog-calls of Tè l'Co tè and in the sprightly Obal dins lou Limouzi (superbly rustic drum sounds here) but she serves us well in Brezairola and Per l'èfon - both lullabies. Davrath however manages the fonder ardent smile of the child mother.

Nagano's orchestra is presented in a more spread soundstage unlike the irresistibly unnatural close-up adopted by Vanguard for Davrath. The sound is clear and unassertive; prepossessing but without the high candle power of the Davrath Vanguard set.

When will we get all the other regional sets, I wonder. Bayo and Leroux gave us the Basque Songs (Naïve and Gallo) but there are shelves full of his other arrangements!

The Emmanuel has competition on Marco Polo but unfortunately I have not heard that version. Unlike the Canteloube set, all but one of which are sung in Auvergnat dialect, these are sung in French. These are songs of dance and drolerie, field and village green. They are somewhat in the pastoral vein of the Canteloube but if the Auvergne songs are touched with a Delian wand these evince what might easily be the influence of Vaughan Williams. In fact I thought often of various songs from Sir John in Love. The highlight is the last song Adieu Bergère.

I commend this set very strongly to those who would like both a splendid modern recording of the Canteloube songs and a chance to widen horizons with the Emmanuel.

This is a good set, very well recorded and with the merit of Dawn Upshaw's voice a central attraction. Will be preferred by those who like a leisurely Delian approach to their Canteloube songs.

Rob Barnett

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