Joseph Canteloube (de Malaret) is still unjustly associated with only one work, his celebrated Chants d’Auvergne
. The genesis for his Poème
began in 1918 while Canteloube, a great pianist, was touring in the south of France as the duo partner of the violinist Gaston le Fleuve. The concept owes much to Chausson, but it is one of the works of Canteloube where we can not only appreciate his luxurious orchestration and harmonic language, but also hear his unique melodic creation. He often felt shortcomings in this regard, and found for a large part his inspiration in various folk cultures from around the world, often describing himself as a régional composer. The Poème
was reworked in 1937–8, and the violinist André Asselin gave the premiere. I was fascinated to read recently a most diplomatic letter from this violinist to Canteloube, answering the composer’s anxiety about the ‘heaviness’ of the orchestration, and how during the performance he could hear himself better then he had anticipated. This is, however, a problem that is often attributed to Chausson as well, and to take Asselin’s words, this Poème
is ‘more beautiful and moving still than I had expected it to be […] and it brings to life an enlightening artistic experience’.
from notes by Philippe Graffin © 2002