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Joseph CANTELOUBE (1879-1957)
Chants d’Auvergne

Oï ayaï
La Delaïssádo
Passo, pel prat
Tè, l’co, tè
Pour l’enfant
Deux Bourées
Lou coucut
Chut, chut
Uno jionto postouro
La pastoura als camps
La pastrouletta è lou chibalié
Lou boussu
Malurous qu’o uno fenno
Jou l’pount d’o Mirabel

Frederica von Stade (mezzo soprano)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Antonio de Almeida
Recorded Abbey Road, London 1982 and 1985


When I last reviewed a batch of Sony Classicals for the site recently I pointed out, as did other colleagues, the lack of recording details and the cursory production information provided. So, credit where it’s due – this latest collection has full recording dates, locations, texts and notes in English, French and German – simply but attractively laid out.

Frederica von Stade’s Canteloube was recorded in 1982 – the bulk here – and 1985 (the last seven items listed above in the head note). She is a most attractive artist with intelligence and sensitivity to spare and an ease of vocal production. It’s noticeable how she fares so well in the more reflective settings, how she vests the lovelorn texts with expressive intimacy and understanding – try Uno jionto postouro or the colour she vests in La Delaïssádo. The sense of almost elliptical loss is felt acutely in these not untroubled Arcadian settings in such as the concluding Pastorale or the ambiguities and ambivalences of Passo, pel prat and Tè, l’co, tè. Where she is perhaps less persuasive is in sheer sensuality and in delicacy. Comparison with the brazen quasi-eroticism of Anna Moffo and Stokowski may be an extreme example but it’s difficult to rid oneself completely of the sound of their luxurious response to the music. Nearer to one’s own time there is de los Angeles’ captivating and generous warmth or Gomez’s idiomatic way with the texts and Te Kanawa’s beauty of tone.

Thus whilst Baïlèro diverts, a certain hardness is also present in the voice, maybe exacerbated by the recording that can distance one from immediacy of response. Part of this, but by no means all, might be down to the rather bloom-less recording. Certainly there is opulence when necessary – as in Oï ayaï – and for real fluency and agility listen to Lou coucut. And yet the Pastourelle has something of an edge to it that runs throughout the disc and can limit pleasure. The orchestra plays well, winds prominently so (excellent work by them in L’Antouèno) and de Almeida shapes the songs with some finesse.

So despite the significant virtues of this set I can’t recommend it above the others mentioned. Beauty for its own sake is not necessarily the goal but this recording would appeal most to those who prefer these settings rather tougher, edgier and less verdant than the norm.

Jonathan Woolf



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