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Suzanne Danco / Lucie Daullene

Berlioz: Les Nuits d'été; Canteloube: Chants de la France (CD)

Snow White sings Canteloube, accompanied by the composer: a rare and newly remastered album, transferred to CD on Decca, from the original master tapes, for the first time.

The ‘bonus’ here is more familiar but still undervalued: the first complete recording of Les Nuits d’été, made in 1953, at a time when Berlioz was still known for little more than the ‘Symphonie fantastique’, even in France. It was sung by the Belgian soprano, Suzanne Danco with a natural linguistic ease and the technical qualities so prized the composer, Luigi Dallapiccola: ‘control, breathing, technique, and intonation … balanced so perfectly that one cannot even perceive them as separate’. Danco’s interpretation remains a landmark in the cycle’s discography.

As R.J. Stove outlines in a new essay for this important Eloquence release, Lucie Daullène (b.1931) was nearer 19 than (as the legend has it) 15 years old in 1949-50 when she recorded an album of Chants de France for L’Oiseau-Lyre. Her voice, all the same, is so light, fresh and uncoloured by finesse that one may readily hear why Canteloube thought she was ideal. ‘That’s how French folk songs should be sung,’ he once wrote. Though Daullène made only one more classical recording, she later achieved a measure of fame (now named Dolène) as the voice of Disney’s heroine. ‘Snow White’. in the dubbed French version of the movie.

At the piano, the septuagenarian Canteloube tosses off scales, arpeggios and glissandi with a panache enviable by many players one-third of his age. He had gathered the songs themselves from Brittany to Corsica and many points in between and none of them reappear in the more familiar "Chants d’Auvergne", even though Daullène herself was a native of the region, making this new release all the more appealing to anyone already captivated by Canteloube.

Les Nuits d’été

Suzanne Danco, soprano
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Thor Johnson

Chants de la France:
La belle est au jardin d’amour
Qu’on you n’éro pitchounèlo
Ya rien de si charmant
La fermo d’un paure omé
Ma douce amie
Petite Claudinette
Au berdurè
De bon matin je me suis levé
L’hiver sera bientôt passé
O ciucciarella !
Sé lo voy
Bon mati me llevi
Sur la Montagne

Lucie Daullène, soprano
Joseph Canteloube, piano