Joseph CANTELOUBE (1879-1957)

Songs of the Auvergne (1923-1935): Malurous qu’o uno fenno [1.37]; Baïlèro [6.40]; Trois Bourrées: L’aïo dè rotso – Ound’ onorèn gorda? - Obal dins lou Limousi [6.46]; La pastoura als camps [2.41]; Lo Fiolairé [2.40]; L’Antouèno [3:00]; Chut, chut [2.39]; Oï, ayaï [3.39]; La delaïssádo [5.01]; Lou boussu [2.28]; Deux Bourrées: N’aï pas iéu de mîo – Lo calhé [5.23]; La pastrouletta è lou chibalié [1.51]; Pour l’enfant [2.41]; Pastourello [2.56]; Lou Coucut [2.14]; Passo pel Prat [4.02]; Uno jionto postoura [2.08]; Pastorale [4.06]; Tè, l’co, tè [0.42]; Brezairola [3.41]; Obal, din loc coumbèlo [3.18]; Hé! Beyla-z-y d’au fé! [1.51]; Jou l‘Pount d’o Mirabel [3.47]; Lou diziou bé [1.20]
Netania Davrath (soprano)
Orchestra/Pierre de la Roche
rec. Baumgarten Hall, Vienna, Austria, 27 March 1963, 16 March 1966. ADD
ALTO ALC 1151 [77:24]
Netania Davrath (1931-1987), for all her slender audience reach, has never been matched in this repertoire. Neither should we forget her other folksong collection (Vanguard) and the Abravanel-conducted Honegger King David (Vanguard).
For those in the know she is incomparable in the Auvergne songs; one of a kind.. Her unknowingly seductive voice is all artlessly bluff innocence and heartbreaking vulnerability. The arrangements zing, ping and gurgle with pipe, reed, tabor and hurdy-gurdy authenticity. Simply irresistible.
Davrath’s voice is bell-clear, smokily girlish, embodying countryside innocence yet sophisticated. She magically spins in facial expressions – smiles, winks and grimaces. Listen to the way she colours and adds emphasis and de-emphasis to “Chut Chut” and the words “tu tu lai lara” in Lo fiolairé. Yet there is no mistaking the Finzian tragedy entangled in playfulness in Oï ayaï and in the slowly unfolding La delaïssádo. The lullaby Brezairola is the crown of all lullabies. The voluptuous shimmer of the heat-haze in Obal, din loc coumbèlo has a soft-focus operatic emotional reach. The zip and vocal bravura of the dog-calls in Tè l'co tè are extraordinary and so is the bray and hoof-kick vivacity of Hé! Beyla-z-y d’au fé! Vocal production is pure, lit with endearment, affection, humour and sensuousness. She is elegant without gentility yet pristine and flamboyant.
Gens (also Naxos vol. 2), Upshaw, de Los Angeles, von Stade, Bayo (Naive), Bajor, Gomez, Te Kanawa (Decca – rather too maturely full-fat operatic for my taste), MacLiver and Madeleine Grey (the pioneering version on Pearl) have their moments and more. Davrath, however, stands consistently supreme.
Canteloube had a sure hand when it came to arranging and orchestrating these gems. Surely the trick, while using classical apparatus, is not to stifle the butterflies, birdsong, mist, escarpments, sun-dazzle, sheep-calls and heat-haze of the original songs. Canteloube works with an impressionistic palette, touching in with the subtlest intensifying use of piano, flute, oboe and clarinet. The lovely in-your-face balance takes the lightest tincture from Ravel, d'Indy, early Roussel and Bonnal.
The original 30ips half-inch master tapes were made on an Ampex 300 series vacuum tube (valve) tape recorder. Specially designed playback heads were used and the greatest attention paid to alignment, signal-to-noise ratio and frequency response. The fabulous results are still there to revel in.
There are downsides to this disc but do not let that put you off. We get neither sung words nor translations in the insert. While the disc is very well filled we have to do without about 18 songs included on the twin CD set: Vanguard Classics ATM-CD-1189 though some of them are not Songs of the Auvergne. On the plus-side the notes are by James Murray.
One of the crowning glories of the analogue era. Do not miss out on this.

Rob Barnett
One of the crowning glories of the analogue era. Do not miss out on this.