Noël ! Noël !! Noël !!!
Decked out with a scintillating garland of artists (like Mika, Carla Bruni, Renan Luce and Iggy Pop) and a 50-man orchestra, legendary French composer Michel Legrand has released a finely crafted Xmas album to light up the season: Noël ! Noël !! Noël !!!
The classic title with amplified exclamation marks speaks volumes. In his usual style, France’s best-known composer (no less than 200 film scores under his belt and projects constantly on the boil) hasn’t done things by half measures.
He has waved his Christmas wand and conjured up a symphonic orchestra doubled by a big band totalling 50 musicians, accompanied by the twinkling harp of Catherine Michel, soloist at the Opéra de Paris. All the classic dishes are on the festive menu, served up in an American-style flourish with an impressive, eclectic cast that includes Jamie Cullum, Rufus Wainwright, Madeleine Peyroux, Mika, Emilie Simon, Renan Luce, Cœur de Pirate, Carla Bruni (oh yes), Iggy Pop, Ayo, Olivia Ruiz and M.
In a medley of French and English, the singers have all chosen a song that marked their childhood. Conducted by the eighty-year-old master in the art, they revive old favourites (like the French equivalent of “Jingle Bells”, Vive le vent by Mika; a female version of Noël blanc with Cœur de Pirate; and an airy Douce nuit (Silent Night) sung by M), along with a few less familiar numbers (Brassens’ Le Père Noël et la petite fille reworked by Renan Luce and Piaf’s Le Noël de la rue by Olivia Ruiz), and one original track (a song for five voices composed by Michel Legrand entitled Noël d’Espoir).
To set the brandy alight around the pudding, the composer adds a generous helping of swing, perfectly orchestrated and deliciously fragrant. Recorded a stone’s throw from Broadway, Noël ! Noël !! Noël !!! conjures up a winter wonderland of jazzy stars and images, 100% old school, like the old fifties classics your mum used to play. There are no surprises, just the tried and trusted Christmas traditions that bring pleasure every time, like turkey and chestnut stuffing.
Michel Legrand Noël ! Noël !! Noël !!! (Universal) 2011.