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Penguin Guide, January 2009

CANTELOUBE: Chants d’Auvergne 8.557491
CANTELOUBE: Chants d’Auvergne (selections), Vol. 2 / Chant de France / Triptyque 8.570338

Véronique Gens, one of the finest French singers of her generation, with her fresh, finely projected voice gives performances of this generous selection of the Chants d’Auvergne that bring out the folk qualities far more than usual. Gens gives them an authentic French timbre, whether in the melismatic phrases of Baïléro, always a favourite item, or the vigour of the two sets of Bourrées. Jean-Claude Casadesus conducts the excellent Lille Orchestra in similarly idiomatic performances, atmospherically recorded. To fill out the second disc, Gens includes six excerpts from the Chants de France, another winning collection derived from folk material, and also the Triptych, three memorable and original settings of the poems of Roger Frêne, rather in the style of Chausson. Full texts and translations make this a genuine bargain.

Classic FM, December 2005

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Fanfare, July 2005

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Stephanie von Buchau
Inside Bay Area, March 2005

I praised Kiri Te Kanawa's "Songs of the Auvergne," recently; it's an historical recording, beautifully and sensually performed. This new CD is even better. Gens is from the Auvergne, which gives her textual reading authenticity and Casadesus is a sensitive accompanist.

Best of all, the soprano's light, tender tone keeps the piece floating with that ethereal innocence that Canteloube created so effortlessly. The last of these folksong settings was written in 1955 — by that era nobody was making such beautiful, melodic music.

Robert Benson, March 2005

This fine new Naxos issue with Véronique Gens and Jean-Claude Casadesus conducting is welcome. Gens' voice is rather light—but this perhaps is the kind of sound Canteloube preferred for this music. On this site we recently reviewed a private reissue of a group of "Songs of France" (including one of Canteloube's) sung by soprano Lucie Daullene with Joseph Canteloube at the piano. A reader wrote saying he knew the history of this rare recording and mentioned Canteloube had told him he thought Daullene's light, innocent voice was perfect for his songs . . . I imagine Canteloube would have been pleased with Véronique Gens' sound and interpretation. Naxos' multi-channel recording is just fine, with the performers in front, ambient sound from other speakers. Complete original texts are provided with English translations.

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