Kiri Te Kanawa
Lynn Harrell & Instrumental Ensemble
English Chamber Orchestra
Jeffrey Tate, conductor
The Chants d’Auvergne are traditional songs of the Auvergne (a historic region of France), in Occitan language, orchestrated for soprano and orchestra or piano by Joseph Canteloube between 1923 and 1930. They are so famous and appreciated that one of them, Baïlèro and Obal, din lou Limouzi (La-bas dans le limousin), was included in the soundtrack of Henry V directed by Laurence Olivier (1944). In the recording I propose, the Chants are sung by Kiri Te Kanawa.
Kiri Te Kanawa is certainly best known for her operatic roles, among which the title role in Manon Lescaut, the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro and Violetta Valery in La Traviata, so in some regard this is a quite unusual recording.
I said “unusual”, but this is an expression that can only be used at first, because as soon as you hear the music, it will be easy to understand that the charming and idyllic atmosphere of the Chants d’Auvergne harmonize perfectly with the sweet voice of the New Zealand soprano. These songs, which may become chanting or boring if the voice is not accompanied by a personality, are interpreted by Te Kanawa with clarity and significance, so that behind every note there is a thought, a feeling, a desire to share with the listeners the beauty of these Chants. Her singing expresses joy and melancholy, thanks to her exquisite phrasing and expressiveness, that is all the more necessary, as the Chants are written in a language of which little or nothing you can guess, if you do not know it.
Jeffrey Tate’s conduction masterfully accompanies the singer and creates an effect of enchantment and magic: it is therefore very important for the success of this recording.