Karina Gauvin – Marie Hubert : Fille du Roy

· par Frédéric Cardin

What a charming album! Soprano Karina Gauvin plunges deep into Quebec’s roots with this beautifully coloured tribute to her ancestor, a certain Marie Hubert, who arrived in New France in 1670, married the same year and had 5 children who would in turn spread across this new French-speaking nation in America.

We follow the orphan Marie Hubert from her poverty-stricken Parisian neighbourhood, from which she escaped thanks to the Filles du Roy programme (King Louis XIV gave money and free travel to New France for ‘’well-mannered and beautiful’’ young orphans under his protection in exchange for populating the new colony). Thanks to a made-up diary written by Karina Gauvin, we can follow her simple but all-to-familiar story: an arduous crossing, her long-awaited arrival, a quick marriage to a good man who worked hard and loved her, a large family, courageous clearing of this demanding country, harsh winters, the death of her husband who was older than she was, and a successful remarriage. In the end, we lose track of her in the echoes of a history that has never done much justice to the humble like Marie Hubert. But Karina Gauvin, her illustrious descendant, takes her hat off to her here with remarkable mastery.

In a repertoire of folk songs as endearing as they are famous (Isabeau s’y promène, Ah, toi belle hirondelle, Vive la Canadienne), Karina takes the listener on a touching journey through time, at times danceable, at times melancholy, brought to life by arrangements bursting with colour and rich counterpoint. Bravo to Claude Lapalme and Pierre McLean for these creations worthy of Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne!

Karina Gauvin gives it her all, with a vocal ease reminiscent of her memorable interpretation of Canteloube’s folk-romantic corpus. The accompaniment could hardly be better: the Molinari Quartet for the strings (with the addition of Étienne Lafrance on double bass), the Pentaèdre ensemble for the winds, Valérie Milot on harp and Pierre McLean, piano and harpsichord. It’s perfection!

Long live this magnificent cycle of songs steeped in our historical Quebecois soil!

Marie Hubert – Fille du Roy will be presented in concert at the Festival Classica, on 11 June 2024 in Boucherville.

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