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-scène.
Brett Kelly's larger and more luxurious orchestra sometimes
adds just cannot help adding too much plush for the songs’ good
as in the weighed down damask textures of the Malurous quo
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
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, sé 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
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 Poème 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
but not a top recommendation.