French music seen from abroad March 2012
When times are hard, it’s tempting to plunge back into the past: Ludovic Bource and Air have been composing for silent films, Patricia Kass has done a cover of Piaf, the sixties are all the rage in Quebec, while Juliette Gréco celebrates another birthday.
"And the winner is..." Ludovic Bource. In Los Angeles, the composer won one of the five Oscars awarded to The Artist, for best sound track. “His music plays a relatively important role in a film without dialogue,” snapped the Globe and Mail (Canada, 24/2). "Just as The Artist revisits the era of silent film, its score plays off the codes established during the golden age of Hollywood," in the 1930s, "when composers like Max Steiner, Alfred Newman and Erich Korngold took what they’d learned from mentors Mahler, Lizst, Brahms and Strauss and created sweeping, romantic arrangements".
In Haaretz (Israel, 1/3), Bource, who also won awards at the French Césars and the British BAFTAs, admitted that he wasn’t "inspired by the music of silent films," adding that, "We were mostly influenced by symphonies from the 19th century, and from the great Hollywood soundtracks." For his third film with Michel Hazanavicius, the musician from Pontivy "worked for eight months, creating two and a half hours of music, of which 80 minutes wound up in the final cut." (Variety, USA, 26/2).
Like Scorsese’s Hugo (also a big winner at the Oscars), Air pays tribute to visionary film-maker Georges Méliès. The duo from Versailles set about "giving audio to Georges Méliès's classic 1902 science fiction silent film Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip to the Moon) " (The National, United Arab Emirates, 21/2). The result is a CD that only recently appeared on the market but has already shot up in the international charts (Top 40 throughout Europe, 57th in the USA). "We had the movie on the screen and we were testing ideas," Nicolas Godin explained in Vulture (USA, 10/2). "We watched the movie 50 times a day for three weeks.” – bearing in mind that the film only lasts 16 minutes! "At the end of the movie, we had two surprises. The first was, Wow, we have an album. It's completely coherent (…). And the second was that we were frustrated because it stopped in a very abrupt way. We were frustrated and we wanted to perfect it, so we decided to go on and tell the story in 30 minutes". For El Pais (Spain, 14/2), it’s "an ambitious, solid concept that could turn out to be just as worthwhile for the film as for the group itself.”
According to the German showbiz magazine, Musikmarkt (16/2), Patricia Kaas is preparing "a tribute to Edith Piaf to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her death". The show, entitled Kaas chante Piaf (Kass sings Piaf), will include "21 of the icon’s songs arranged by Abel Korzeniowski". The tour "will take them round the globe" starting from 13 March 2013. In the run-up, the lady from Forbach "passed through Quebec (...) to talk about her compilation Mademoiselle n'a pas chanté que le blues, her autobiography L'ombre de sa voix and her forthcoming show" on Piaf (Métro Montréal, 23/2). For Patricia Kaas, "It’s one thing to sing her songs, but you have to interpret them as well, and that calls for some life experience (…). You have to be sure of yourself and a bit courageous. I wanted to sing her big hits, and show off some of her less well-known tracks.”
In the meantime, Quebec was getting ready to host the show Le retour de nos idoles (a condensed version of the famous Age Tendre tours) “from 4 to 6 March at the Colisée” (Le Soleil, Canada, 29/2). "Between them, they represent almost 80 years of career and millions of albums sold. Although younger people have never heard of them,” Michèle Torr and Jean-Jacques Lafon "brought us hits like Emmène-moi danser ce soir (1978) and Le géant de papier (1985)", which still ring in their fans’ ears.” At the Colisée, "they will be sharing the stage with Ginette Reno, Renée Martel, Michel Delpech and Alain Morisod and Sweet People."
A million miles away from sentimental nostalgia, Juliette Gréco, "One of the freest, most insolent and seductive women in France" celebrated her 85th birthday on 7 February. But for La Vanguardia (Spain, 12/2), which published a feature article on the ex-muse of the post-war Saint-Germain-des-Près crowd, "for the French and her millions of fans all over the world, she is simply La Greco". From Sartre to Queneau, Ferré to Gainsbourg, and Olivia Ruiz to Abd al Malik, she relates her artistic experiences in an autobiography, Je suis faite comme ça (Flammarion), which came out in January at the same time as her new album, Ça se traverse et c'est beau.