Catalan Songs
Edition by Manuel Garcia Morante
Victoria de los Angeles (soprano); Geoffrey Parsons (piano)
rec. Abbey Road Studios No. 1, London, July 1991. DDD
Detailed tracklisting at end of review
Victoria de los Angeles (1923-2005) among many others made two well thought of CDs of Canteloube’s Auvergne songs. This was for EMI in the analogue 1970s. They still do well and have appeared on the Great Recording of the Century series (see review). Though I have always favoured Netania Davrath’s set on Vanguard (see review) with her more skittishly youthful voice the de los Angeles discs remain strong contenders alongside Von Stade (long overdue a full reissue with Canteloube’s Triptych), Gens (Naxos) and Upshaw (Erato).
In the present case de los Angeles offers a rare collection of Catalan songs. I don’t recall it appearing before but surely it must have … In any event, graced with a cover featuring the Gaudi’s towering Sagrada Familia against an angry sky, Brilliant Classics have done a slap-up job. Not only are there extensive notes in English and Spanish by Roger Alier but we are also treated to the full sung texts ideally laid out in the booklet with Catalan side by side with English translation. Hats off to Brilliant Classics for this and for licensing this wonderfully clear recording!
The singer is joined by Geoffrey Parsons (1929-1995) who was among the aristocracy of those demeaningly termed ‘accompanists’. His playing of the sometimes Chopin-like writing flows around and with the singing in a liquid progression. The songs are variously contented, lilting and plangent and broadly in the tradition of the Auvergne songs. The link with Canteloube can be heard in the skipping La ploma de perdiu and in the delightful bells and sharp-pecking glint of El bon caçador. Also remarkable are the drip-tolling slowness of the Caterina d’Alió cortège and the rigour and military resolve of El tres tambors. There’s a light-hearted aspect as well - as in L’hereu Riera.
De los Angeles remained in good voice in 1991 with a transient wraithed shading that recalls Janet Baker’s plummy darkness of tone. Enthusiasts of the genre and of the singer will be delighted to hear this CD which holds these rarely encountered songs up to wonder and the light.
Rob Barnett 
Enthusiasts of the genre and of the singer will be delighted to hear this CD which holds these rarely encountered songs up to wonder and the light.
1. El Cant Del Ocells 02:35
2. Muntanyes regalades 02:45
3. El mariner 02:12
4. El mestre 02:18
5. Mariagneta 02:52
6. Muntanyes del Canigó 02:14
7. El rossinyol 01:49
8. El bon caçador 01:00
9. La filla del marxant 01:18
10. L’hereu Riera 01:57
11. Els estudiantes de Tolosa 01:39
12. La ploma de perdiu 01:40
13. Els fadrins de Sant Boi 01:18
14. Caterina d’Alió 02:48
15. La Margarideta 01:29
16. La Mare de Déu 02:19
17. Josep i Maria 01:17
18. El Noi de la Mare 02:10
19. El desembre congelat 01:15
20. La dama d’Aragó 02:37
21. El testament d’Amèlia 04:20
22. La muller del gavatxot 01:36
23. La filadora 01:31
24. La presó de Lleida 03:10
25. Cançó del lladre 01:44
26. Els pobres traginers 01:17
27. La filla del carmesí 01:21
28. Els tres tambors 01:11
29. Els segadors 01:34