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Issue 87
This article was last updated on
19 January, 2001

More Stuff:
ELIAS The Prayer Cycle. Various/Schwartz (Sony)

GÓRECKI: Symphony No.3 "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs" - Intro and Recommendations

IRGENS-JENSEN Heimferd. (Simax)

KALNINS Rock Symphony. (BIS)

MAHLER Symphony No.4. Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen, et al.. (BBC Legends)

MAHLER Symphony No.8 - Inktroduction

MAHLER The Song of the Earth. Ferrier/Walter (Decca)

MAHLER Kindertotenlieder - An Inktroduction

ORFF Carmina Burana - An Inktroduction

ORFF Catulli Carmina & Trionfo di Aphrodite

PENDERECKI A Polish Requiem. The Dream of Jacob.

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No.13 "Babi Yar"

SIBELIUS The Origin of Fire and other Works for Male Choir with Orchestra

SIBELIUS Kullervo - An Inktroduction

SZYMANOWSKI Stabat Mater. Symphony No.3

TAN Dun Symphony 1997

TOBIAS Des Jonah Sendung (Jonah's Mission). Various/Estonian St SO/Järvi (BIS)

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Dona Nobis Pacem - an Inktroduction with Selected Recommendations

ZEMLIMSKY Lyric Symphony. (Decca Entarte)

Chants d'Auvergne
Songs of the Auvergne
arr. Joseph Canteloube de Malaret (1879-1957)

Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux
conducted by Jean-Pierre Jacquillat

Full texts with translations in English, German and French.

EMI Classics Great Recordings of the Century
CDM5 66978-2

[70:33] mid-price

by Chia Han-Leon

I used to work in this place with a huge collection of at least 3000 LPs, containing some of the most famous recordings in the history of classical music recording. Unfortunately, this collection was largely in disuse, literally and sinfully left to collect dust (and I know many of you out there will pay tons of money for some of these LPs, for example, the other Melodiya Borodin Quartet Shostakovich cycle).

Among these records was the LP ASD 2826 from EMI, 1973, which contained on side 2 just nine of these Songs of the Auvergne, sung by the always regal Victoria de los Angeles. For a long period of time, during lunchtime, I would dig out this LP and put it on, letting the gorgeous sounds of the breathtaking Baïlèro, et al. wash my weariness away.

Below: The plain of the Limagne from this Auvergne website.

The plain of the Limagne To this day, only just over a year later, I would never forget this heavenly recording, with its luscious sounds of string, oboe, Madame de los Angeles (I wish I could meet her), and harp... of course when this CD appeared, with the LP's Millet painting inset on the cover, I snapped it up without hesitation. Now, when I listen to this Baïlèro, I still sometimes put my hand on my heart, and sigh in relief that such beauty still exists in this sometimes awful world (or in my case then, awful workplace).

Auvergne sits close to the centre of France, a volcanic region dominated by the Massif Central, an ancient extinct volcano. The fertility of the area is without doubt; the landscape ranges from volanic landscape to great expanses of rich forest. Auvergne is the land of the Arvernes, originally from Gaul, who were driven to the Massif Central by the Romans in CE 120. Among their legacies is a treasure trove of folksong, from which Joseph Canteloube found his material for these orchestral songs.

The music portrays the land with startling faithfulness, and in Mdm de los Angeles' voice, heartfelt love. Who wouldn't hear the lush landscape, the breathtaking nostalgia in the Baïlèro? Or how the music brims with the life of grandiose landscape in the Pastorale of Book IV/5 (track 18). The Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux is totally in the service of de los Angeles, patiently following her every nuance - the rubato is so subtle as to be completely natural, breathlessly floating with her tenderly passionate voice.

Victoria de los Angeles The nature of the songs range widely in feeling and atmosphere; what makes this such a classic performance is the equally diverse range of style de los Angeles employs. The Three Bourrées are full of gaiety, her voice springing with rhythmic vibrancy. Memorable is the wonderful shift of tempo and tone - from forlorn expectancy to youthful joy - in the second bourrée, Ound' onorèn gorda ("Where shall we go and graze") - de los Angeles' marvellous way with the rhythms of the word-setting is absolutely delicious! She can be flirtatious (La Pastrouletta è lou Chibalié ("The Shepherdess and the Gallant") but also supremely, lyrically sorrowful (La Délaïssádo).

Humour is cast in many styles - the clownishness with which she portrays Lou Boussu ("The Hunchback" - 12) and Lou Coucut ("The Cuckoo") have a Gershwinesque playfulness to them; then there is the mischievious glee of Chut, chut ("Hush, hush" - 17), turning boyish for Hé! beyla-z-y dau fé ("Hoy! give him some hay" - 22) and she is somehow sensuously vibrant in Oï, ayaï (15), with its orchestral piano accompaniment, depicting the fussy Marguerite getting out of bed.

But still, I think the most impressive are the plain beautiful songs - in addition to the Baïlèro, one must listen to the magnificent Passo pel prat ("Come through the Meadow" - 11), with de los Angeles in queenly voice, and the lullaby of the Brezairola ("Cradle Song") as well as the aptly titled Pour l'enfant (For the child - 16), shining with violins - such lovely lovely sounds. Is there another voice who can mix such motherly love, sensuous tenderness with such heart-welling, soft confidence?

The orchestra's majestic accompaniment is spectacular yet unshowy, their colours seeming to spring forth straight from the land (try in L'Antouèno). Obal, din lo coumbèlo ("Away down there in the valley" - 20) positively soars with Mdm de los Angeles' epic, lyric magnificence, gliding and even pulling along the sweep of the Orchestre. It all brings tears of joy to my eyes in the face of her tremendous art. Thank you, Victoria de los Angeles.

CHIA HAN-LEON longs to go to Spain, the Auvergne and somewhere around that area.

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602: 18.11.1999 © Chia Han-Leon

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Readers' Comments

From: Gerald Ferguson ( / Wednesday, January 5, 2000 at 13:32:41)

I will try to obtain a copy of Sra. Los Angeles' "Chants", but let's not forget versions by Netania Davrath, Kiri Te Kanawa, Frederica Von Stade; and I always like a very simple, naive performance dating from the '40s by folk-singer Susan Reed. - GAF

From: Y M Ho ( / Thursday, July 13, 2000 at 17:41:06)

Leon, I have not heard Victoria's version of Songs of the Auvergne. I fell in love with Netania Davrath's version and you know there is no information about her at all on the net You must listen to Netania's version...Tell me what you think Netania...Netania...where are you?


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