That Baïlèro, a shepherd’s song from the highlands of Auvergne sung in the Occitan dialect of the area, should become a favourite with singers ranging from Victoria de los Angeles to Sarah Brightman by way of Renée Fleming and Karita Mattila, is all because of Marie-Joseph Canteloube de Malaret. As a budding composer in Paris in the 1900s, Canteloube was unable to interest himself in the various musical cliques and currents. Instead he looked for inspiration in Auvergne in central France where he was born, starting to collect the songs of the farmers and shepherds that lived in the mountainous region. But he did so as a composer rather than a musicologist, and between 1923 and 1954 he published a total of thirty Chants d’Auvergne, arranged, harmonized and sumptuously orchestrated.
This 3-CD SoulMusic Records’ set celebrates the recordings that Solomon Burke made for the legendary Atlantic Records label between 1960 and 1968. Solomon is generally acknowledged as one of the greatest soul singers to emerge during the genre’s golden days. He signed to Atlantic before ‘soul music’ became a bona fide sub-genre of African-American music and it was Solomon who helped define this new movement and he was, in fact, one of the first artists to use ‘soul’ to describe his music. He would eventually be known the world over as ‘The King of Rock and Soul’.
Those of us who rejoice in the crystalline beauty of Carolyn Sampson’s interpretations of Bach, Handel and Purcell will welcome this bouquet of songs on a floral theme, her debut recital disc. It’s been a long wait, but our patience is repaid handsomely. With pianist Joseph Middleton she savours some choice blooms from, among others, Britten, Chabrier, Schubert, Schumann, Gounod and Strauss, her glorious soprano particularly affecting in Fauré’s Le papillon et la fleur and the wonderfully perfumed Les roses d’Ispahan. Middleton plays with dextrous delicacy throughout and brings real virtuosity to Strauss’s Mädchenblumen. Highly recommended.