Notes and Editorial Reviews
Somehow, I missed the first CD of Songs of the Auvergne (Erato 96559) by these artists, issued about three years ago. Now I regret it, for these are high-quality performances, with Upshaw's sweet, somewhat girlish voice cushioned on a layer of lush orchestral sound, laid on with discretion by Nagano. Several sopranos have given us fine recordings of their kind, ranging from the more operatic voices of Kiri Te Kanawa, Frederica von Stade (both complete), and Anna Moffo, who is joined by Leopold Stokowski in ravishing performances of (unfortunately) a small group of the songs, to the more folksy, very sympathetic renditions of the whole set (and then some) by Netania Davrath and the pseudonymous "Pierre de la Roche" (Does anybody know who this mysterious conductor was . . . ? Vanguard ain't talkin'). Upshaw's style lies somewhere in between the more sophisticated "operatic" singers and the simpler, more straightforward Davrath. As an appropriate bonus, Upshaw and Nagano offer six folk songs from Burgundy, orchestrated in a sparer style than Canteloube's by Maurice Emmanuel (1862 1938), another French musician who believed that his people's folk songs and their modal origins provided a solid basis for the music of the future. Erato provides texts in German, English, French, medieval French (Emmanuel), and Auvergne dialect (Canteloube).
-- James Miller, FANFARE [3/1998]