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Reviews: Canteloube: Chants d'Auvergne - Veronique Gens

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Reviews: 3

Review by nickc March 1, 2005 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
The Auvergne is a region in south central France and these are 19th. century folksongs expanded into orchestral garb with a soprano soloist. I had heard these years ago at my uncle's house with I think Kiri te Kanawa singing. Listening to the first 5 or 6 I was thinking they all sounded a bit the same until a got to the tenth song where the mood darkened magnificently. Overall it is fairly light fare and I wouldn't recommend listening to the whole disc in one hit.
The orchestral sound is big and spacious, with plenty of beautiful wind solos tastefully spotlighted. The first few times I listened I thought Gens' voice was reproduced a bit harshly but that opinion has ameliorated over time.

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Review by beardawgs May 11, 2005 (5 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
It looks like Naxos has struck gold with Veronique Gens, a first class baroque specialist and (at least for me initially) a definite selling point of this recording. But after hearing the disc in full many times over, it is the orchestral sound colouring that motivates me more than just singing to come back to this one. I also refuse to drop at Gramophone’s level and praise anything that comes out of Naxos just for the sake of ‘good value for money’. Of course, it’s good that their discs are cheap, but what’s on them should be scrutinised in the same way as any other label’s recording.

Orchestra first – French orchestras used to be famous for their ability to produce a unique blend of colours, fragility and transparency, while at the same time maintaining firm precision and solid sound. In today’s global musical world, where every orchestra sounds more or less the same, Lille’s players are like a breath of fresh air and they do full justice to Canteloube’s unique writing. It’s like a sound representation of Monet’s paintings.

I am less impressed with the Gens’ singing, after a while I realised that she is not putting as much effort as the orchestra does in exploring the possibilities of shading and expression of these songs. More than half of the 21 songs she sings in exactly the same way, and in just a few brief places she gives a tantalising glimpse of what she can do with her voice (track 16 for example). After a while the whole venture sounded strangely detached, as if she wasn’t there with the orchestra. It is still a good performance, but it could have been a fantastic one.

It was a bit tricky to get the right level of playing this disc, given the differences of dynamics of the singer the orchestra. Voice is recorded a bit too close for my taste and it does sound a bit too harsh, while the orchestra is nicely dispersed behind. A bit more blending wouldn’t go amiss, especially if you play it loud enough to get all the nuances of the orchestral performance. As usual with Naxos, there is no technical information about the recording, in MC doesn’t have much air and space, but again, the orchestra plays great and sounds even better.

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Review by jazz1 August 20, 2011 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I have quite a few interpretations of these charming songs, including Von Stade, Davrath , and Dame Kiri, the big plus is that Veronique Gens is French speaking and you can hear that her Auvergne accent sound genuine. Some of the others singers to be honest do not sound the part, even if their singing is good. The other big plus is the way Veronique Gens voice comes accross, clear as a bell, I cannot hear any harshness. The orchestral sound and colours are also perfect. To me it is near perfection, sure they can be a few quibbles, but I am yet to hear anything better

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