Charles TRENET - Le Fou Chantant - A Centenary Tribute
La mer
Vous êtes jolie
La mer
Je chante
Jardin du mois de Mai
J'ai ta main
Y'a de la joie
La cigale et la fourmi (with Django Reinhardt)
La polka du roi
Bonsoir, jolie madame
La vie qui va
Le temps des cérises
Vous oubliez votre cheval
Que reste-t-il de nos amours?
En écoutant mon coeur chanter
Ah, dis ah, dis ah, bonjour!
Marie, Marie
Douce France
Quand j'étais p'tit
Mes jeunes années
Mam'zelle Clio
L'âme des poètes
La folle complainte
La romance de Paris
Vous qui passez sans me voir
Charles Trenet and various orchestras and artists
rec. 1937-1954. ADD
Trenet (1913-2001) is one of the great names among French chansonniers. He lacks the smoky rasp, intellectual torque and corrosive cynicism of Brassens, Brel or Piaf and in its place we get a sweet, tender, lispy tenor and a polished commercial sheen, scattiness and charm.
It can be irresistible: romantic to the point of goose-bumps and a mistiness in the eyes in his trademark La Mer and in Vous qui passez sans me voir, Marie, Marie, Quand j'étais p'tit (is that Stéphane Grappelli’s violin, I wonder) and Que reste-t-il de nos amours? Hoofer Hollywood is to the fore in Je Chante, in La Vie qui Va and elsewhere. He is pert, cheeky and precise and much more Gallic in Mam'zelle Clio and one of his other classics: Boum! How he relaxes into Jardin du mois de Mai. Django Reinhardt can be heard not just in La cigale et la fourmi but also I suspect in Verlaine and La folle complainte. We are pretty much spared the accordion treatment until we get to Ménilmontant. There are some lovely arrangements as in the Jacques Frost ice crystals and limelight of En écoutant mon coeur chanter. These songs are usually with big smoochy commercial bands.
Typical of this series but praiseworthy and not to be taken for granted is that the disc is packed to the rim at presque 80 minutes. Ray Crick provides the usual gratifyingly substantial essay aided by notes from Ralph Harvey and Peter Dempsey. Another triumph for Retrospective and great value for us. I hope they soon turn to other of the chansonniers. Just a thought.
I was listening recently to a CD of Tikhon Khrennikov’s music for soviet cinema and musicals – some of it is just superb. It’s time we started looking at the Soviet musical beyond Shostakovich’s Cheryomushki.
An epitome of Trenet in one CD.

Rob Barnett

Romantic to the point of goose-bumps and a mistiness in the eyes.

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