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Le Chant de la Mine

Sarah Laulan (so­prano), Sébas­tian Obrecht (tenor); Orchestre Valen­tiana/ni­cholas Bucher Indésens INDE120 51:15 mins Com­posed in 1956, Eugène Bozza’s re­mark­able Le Chant de la Mine (The Song of the Mine) was un­til last year all but for­got­ten. ★ap­pily, Nico­las Bucher and the Orchestre Valen­tiana (Bozza was for­mer mu­si­cal di­rec­tor of the Con­ser­va­toire de Va­len­ci­ennes) have breathed life once more into this ex­hil­a­rat­ing or­a­to­rio for or­ches­tra, choir, soloists and nar­ra­tor, with a new record­ing full of life and colour.

Set­ting a text by Bel­gian poet

José Bruyr, the or­a­to­rio presents a snap­shot of life in a min­ing town, ex­plor­ing the catas­tro­phe and en­durance that mark this close com­mu­nity. Bozza’s score is colour­ful and dra­matic, his or­ches­tral writ­ing is at times rem­i­nis­cent of Stravin­sky’s The Fire­bird while De­bussy (par­tic­u­larly ‘Sirènes’) is closely ref­er­enced in Bozza’s scor­ing for fe­male choir.

The Orchestre Valen­tiana gives a com­mend­able per­for­mance

(with some par­tic­u­larly beau­ti­ful wood­wind play­ing) while the in­clu­sion of the Pol­ish Min­ers’ Choir of Douai as ‘the min­ers’ cho­rus’ lends the disc a raw and mov­ing vi­tal­ity. ★ow­ever, the fe­male cho­rus sounds some­what stretched at times with some shaky in­to­na­tion, and a copy of the li­bretto (plus trans­la­tion) in the sleeve notes would much en­hance the lis­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. All the same, this is an ad­mirable en­deav­our and marks a wel­come re­turn of Bozza’s in­trigu­ing score. Kate Wake­l­ing PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★ RECORD­ING ★★★

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