Singing in Occitan. Beautifully.

A week or two ago I heard a recording on Radio Scotland of Dawn Upshaw singing ‪Baïlèro, one of the Songs from the Auvergne:

a collection of folk songs from the Auvergne region of France arranged for soprano voice and orchestra or piano by Joseph Canteloube between 1923 and 1930 […] in the local language, Occitan.

The song itself is beautiful, and Dawn Upshaw’s version gave me goose-bumps, it was so lovely. I couldn’t find it on YouTube, but I did find this version by Netania Davrath, which is just as exquisite.

Here’s a comment on her voice from Wikipedia, by music critic Rob Barnett

Her early recording of Joseph Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne is considered by many to be unsurpassed […] Her voice is tender, strong, nasal, arch, shy, abandoned, free from vibrato, pure and clean and distinctly un-operatic. […] Davrath’s facility in eight languages undoubtedly aids her interpretations which are always intelligent and which do not give the impression of being phonetically acquired.—Rob Barnett, music critic[2]

For language lovers (yes, there’s a language slant to this post!), the added bonus of this YouTube recording is that it shows the words of the song, in Occitan. I hope you enjoy it and that it brings a touch of springtime to this chilly Easter.

By Marian Dougan

4 responses

  1. Thank you Marian,

    This was the language of my maternal grandparents and this beautiful video and song was the last thing I expected to discover this morning!

    Thanks again, I will show it to my mum and aunties, uncles and cousins when I get a chance, I am sure they will apreciate it, it is so rare to hear occitan art on the net…

    Good luck with the award!

    1. Thank you Corinne. I love that song, it’s so beautiful.
      Did your grandparents actually speak Occitan? Do any of the family still speak it? Do you understand it (or even speak it)? So many questions!

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