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Revolutions 1830, 1848, 1871
Les Lunaisiens (Isabelle Druet (mezzo), Jean-François Novelli (tenor), Arnaud Marzorati (baritone), Yves Rechsteiner (piano), Antoine Bitran (barrel organ), Le choeur des révolutionaires))
rec. June 2011, Cité de la Musique, Paris
texts and English translations included
PARATY 214123 [72:34]

This disc is a natural successor to Les Lunaisiens’ previous disc of revolutionary songs from 1789. It takes the story forward into the 19th century, with the French revolutions of 1830 and 1848, together with the rising of the Paris Commune in 1871. It has a lot in common with the previous discs: namely an interesting range of songs from the time, though with surprisingly little context given in the booklet notes which, I would have thought, would have been essential for a project like this. In fact, the booklet essay is a somewhat histrionic and directionless musing rather than a clear analysis of the songs’ contexts. That’s a shame, as it would have made the disc particularly interesting - and more appealing - to someone who doesn’t know the history. Even for someone who does, these songs are a relatively obscure part of the social history which needs to be enlightened, so while you might applaud Les Lunaisiens for their musical archaeology, you have to lament the missed opportunity to elucidate their material further.

What is here is fine, though. The songs are taken with enthusiasm and vigour, and even occasional interjections from a hungry crowd (as in track 3). I particularly enjoyed the different takes on the Marseillaise, which turns up in several forms here, proving that it was already famous among the international revolutionary community before 1879 when it was made the French national anthem.

The other chief characteristic, as with 1789, is the use of instruments from the period, most especially a wonderfully juicy barrel organ which appears in some of the songs but, more enticingly, for arrangements of Chopin’s Minute Waltz and the Grand March from Aida. Danse Macabre is even more fun with the addition of sung lyrics — which, it should be said, have little link to the revolution but are delivered with wonderful relish. Still, the context of this disc makes it overall only a mixed success.

Simon Thompson

Previous review: John Sheppard (Recording of the Month)

L’Internationale (Pottier & Degeyter) [1:51]
J’ai peur (Beaupan) [5:24]
Le Chant du Pain (Dupont) [4:42]
Le Vieux Drapeau (Béranger) [2:10]
Valse Op 64/1 “Minute” (Chopin) [1:58]
Aime, travaille et prie (Guérin & Henrion) [3:58]
Ne criez pas “A bas les communistes” (Lachembeaudie) [2:40]
Marseillaise des Cotillons (Chaumont) [3:05]
Marche des trompettes from “Aida” (Verdi) [2:38]
Garibaldi (Vincent & Darcier) [3:57]
Le bal et la guillotine (Leroy) [4:50]
Danse Macabre (Cazalis & Saint-Saëns) [2:39]
Quand viendra-t-elle (Pottier) [2:53]
Le Temps des Cerises (Renard) [3:04]
Le Chant des Ouvriers (Dupont) [3:33]
Marseillaise de la Commune (Faure) [1:47]
Lettre de la Périchole from “La Périchole” (Offenbach) [2:50]
Claire (Béranger) [5:10]
Le Sir de Fisch-Ton-Kan (Burani & Louis) [5:05]
Quel est le fou (Pottier) [4:33]
Marseillaise des Requins (Couté) [3:36]



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