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Joseph Marie Canteloube (1879 - 1957)

Canteloube

Songs of the Auvergne

A native of the Auvergne region, Marie-Joseph Canteloube is often compared to Kodaly in Hungary or Cecil Sharp in England, for his primary work was as a collector of folk songs in his native country. Like these others, he was recording and preserving a human heritage at the point it was about to be wiped out by 20th century progress. His magnum opus was a -huge and scholarly edition of folk songs which he had collected from various corners of France - the Languedoc, the Pays Basque, Alsace, Catalonia, and his native Auvergne.

But he wrote that a transcribed folk song "is like a pressed flower, dry and dead - to breathe life into it one needs to see and feel its native hills, scents and breezes". So he provided evocative orchestral accompaniments to many of the songs from the Auvergne, in order to breathe that life back into them. It may offend the folk music purist, but it made Canteloube's name famous, and the result is often very lovely indeed.

These songs are in the Auvergne dialect, which is a variant of the old south French language known as Langue d'Oc - an ancient tongue based on Latin with a smattering of Celtic words.

"Obal din lou Limouzi" compares the merits of the young men of Limousin with those of the singer's native Auvergne.

Down there in Limousin, little girl, down there in Limousin
There are lots of pretty girls
There are lots of pretty girls here too

Young man, however beautiful the girls are in your country,
Our men in Limousin
Are much better at talking of love

Down there in Limousin, little girl, the young men are gallant
Here in Auvergne, in my country
Men love you and are faithful!

"Bailero" is the song of a girl inviting a shepherd to graze his flock in her meadow, where the grass is greener.

Shepherd across the water, you are hardly having a good time,
Sing Bailero lero lero etc
Shepherd, the meadows are in flower, you should come here to graze your flock,
Sing Bailero lero lero etc.
The grass is finer in the meadows here
Bailero lero lero etc.

"La Delaissado" is the haunting song of a girl waiting in the fading evening light for 7 her lover - who doesn't come, because he has jilted her.

A shepherdess is waiting over there at the top of the wood
For the one she loves, but he does not come!
"Alas, I am forsaken! I do not see my lover!
I thought he loved me, and I love him so!"
The star comes out, the star announcing the night,
And the poor little shepherdess stays alone to weep

"Chut, chut" sings of young lovers snatching pleasures behind the backs of their elders.

My father has found me a job, it's to go and look after the cows
Hush, hush, don't make so much noise, don't make so much noise

No sooner had I arrived there, than my lover met me,
Hush, hush, don't make so much noise, don't make so much noise

Didn't get as many stitches done, as he gave me hugs and kisses
Hush, hush, don't make so much noise, don't make so much noise

If there are girls with tidier hair, they aren't better to kiss
Hush, hush, don't make so much noise, don't make so much noise

"Brezairalo" is a simple lullaby.

Sleep, sleep, come, come, sleep, sleep, do come
Sleep, sleep, come down, sleep doesn't want to come, the wretch,
The child doesn't want to sleep

Sleep, sleep, come, come, sleep, sleep, do come
Sleep doesn't want to come, the wretch, the little one doesn't want to sleep
Sleep, come to the little one

Sleep, sleep, come, come, sleep, sleep, do come
Ah, here he is coming at last, the wretch, here he is at last,
The child wants to sleep

"Malurous qu'o un fenno" is an ironic song about the happiness a wife brings a man -and vice versa!

Wretched the man who has a wife, wretched the man without one!
He who hasn't got one wants one, he who has one doesn't!
Tradera laderi derero etc

Happy is the woman who has the man she needs!
But happier still is she who's managed to stay free!
Tradera laderi derero etc

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