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Joseph CANTELOUBE (1879-1957)
Songs of the Auvergne: La pastoura als camps; Baïlèro; L'aio de rotso; Ound'onorèn gorda?; Obal din lou Limouzi; Pastourelle; La delaïssádo; N'ai pas ieu de mio; Lo calhe; Lo fiolairé; Passo pel prat; Lou boussu; Brezairola; Malurous qu'o uno fenno; Jou l'pount d'o Mirabel; Oï ayaï; Lou coucut; Quand z'eyro petitoune; Lá-haut, sur le rocher; Postouro, se tu m'aymo; Uno jionto pastouro; Lou diziou bé.
Sara MacLiver (soprano)
The Queensland Orchestra/Brett Kelly
rec. 6-7, 9-10 February 2006, Queensland Orchestra Studios (Studio 420), ABC, Brisbane. DDD
ABC CLASSICS 476 5703 [64:10]




I cannot recommend this disc over the classic Vanguard collection by Netania Davrath. Pierre de la Roche and his smaller orchestra reflect with more fidelity the rustic mise-en-scéne. Brett Kelly's larger and more luxurious orchestra sometimes just cannot help adding too much plush for the songs' good as in the weighed down damask textures of the Malurous quo uno fenno.

There's nothing amiss with the wonderful Sara MacLiver's steady voice and her singing stands above the Te Kanawa and De Los Angeles versions. She is in good company alongside Veronique Gens (Naxos), Von Stade (Sony) and Dawn Upshaw (Nonesuch). Of course she has already triumphed in many other recordings and her well merited admirer-base should get this disc. However she can sometimes scout over the emotional cargo. Take one example Postouro, se tu m'aymo is despatched with little feeling and there are other instances of emotional shortfall too - the piano should not be as mundane as it is in this Bailero. The pianist redeems himself in the spinning wheel filigree in Lo fiolaire. In the lullaby Brezairola - the world should stop turning for this song; it does not. Play these versions against the Davrath and you will instantly sense a debit without even noting that the disc is rather poorly filled and that a much more generous selection could easily have been made. On the plus side the orchestra supplies sprightly and characterful wind solos - critical to this music of shepherds and shepherdesses. 

The sequence of songs is amongst the best making a good and satisfying session. MacLiver makes something special of Oi ayai and La Delaissado even more than Davrath so aficionados of the songs must hear this disc for ripplingly lively versions. Listen also to the wonderfully halting oboe in the introduction to La delaissado. In light of this I have perhaps been too hard on this disc but those whose strongest interest lies with the songs themselves should lose not time in tracking down the Vanguard double CD set. 

ABC have not stinted on the annotation. We have a good essay from Richard Langham Smith even if he does not mention Canteloube's strong opera Le Mas broadcast many years ago on France Culture and the Suite Dans la Montagne and Poéme to be heard from Philippe Graffin on Hyperion (CDA67427 and CDA67294 respectively). I think he might also have told us about his collections and arrangements of songs from elsewhere in France and beyond. The Canteloube Basque songs were engagingly recorded by Maria Bayo a few years ago for Claves. All words are printed and supplied with translations.

Strengths, certainly but not a top recommendation.

Rob Barnett


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