Notes and Editorial Reviews
In this program titled La Votz Deus Anjos (Voice of the Angels) the nine-member French vocal ensemble Balaguera (which was founded not in a conservatory, but in a "refreshment stall" after a rugby match) performs mostly works indigenous to the lower Pyrenees and Basque regions that belong to France's untraceable though apparently still very lively native oral tradition. It's uncertain just how old or how diversely influenced these songs are, or how much they have been altered over the years, though Balaguera's renditions certainly leave no doubt as to their contemporary vitality.
The opening "Quan jo n'eri amoroseta" (When I was in love) is startling for the singers' highly declarative,
monochromatic delivery, more reminiscent of African chant than French chanson. The lovely "Chanson d'un jeune amant" (Song of a young lover) firmly places us back on European soil, and with Balaguera's anthem-like rendering of the subject, love assumes an importance comparable to nationalism. However, the program's most exciting work is one of the few whose origin is certain--Peir de Lesca's "Les Bateliers" (The Boatman)--a boisterous, tuneful shanty featuring lively, improvised, even rowdy vocals.
Alpha's sound is excellent, allowing us to clearly hear the individual singers but never at the expense of ensemble unity and balance. Jean-Jacques Casteret's inspired notes are a joy to read, and Alpha's outstanding packaging is second to none. Recommended.
--John Greene, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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