Joseph Canteloube's lush, opulent, often sentimental take on folk music from the Auvergne area, the Chants d'Auvergne, remains very popular, but we rarely get any chance to hear any of the composer's other music. That, of course, makes this disc particularly welcome. In addition to some of the favorites from the d'Auvergne cycle not included on the first volume in this series, we get a six Chants de France and the Triptyque (on poems by Roger Frêne) composed in 1914. The Triptyque clearly shows the connection between Canteloube and his (near) contemporaries Debussy and Ravel. While not perhaps containing the most memorable of themes, the Triptyque is as expected a gorgeously scored piece of impressionism - the third song is particularly evocative.
The Chants de France is as richly filled with wonderfully memorable melodies and gorgeously opulent textures as the Chants d'Auvergne. The six songs are surprisingly variegated, containing the expected wistfulness and tender nostalgia, but also humor and wit. Veronique Gens's singing is radiantly beautiful throughout, sounding effortless and unaffected but also sufficiently varied in character to capture the subtle shifts and developments of moods and atmospheres, and always with the utmost sensitivity to the text. The Orchestre National de Lille-Région Nord/Pas-de-Calais under Serge Baudo plays with all the color, richness and subtlety one could hope for. The sound quality is very good as well; very strongly recommended.