My very, very good friend François was gracious enough to allow me to join him and his very lovely girlfriend and his equally lovely niece to see the Orchestre de Paris at Salle Pleyel this evening.
The programme included a piece by Berlioz, a concerto by Chopin and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.
The real treat was the pianist for Chopin’s concerto – Jan Lisiecki. I didn’t recognize the name but I read the programme and discovered he is the Canadian child prodigy I had seen in the CBC documentary hosted by John Schlesinger, ‘The Reluctant Prodigy’. He was superb, his nimble fingered playing brought the house down – he played two encores. It was his début with l’Orchestre de Paris.
The other pieces were fantastic as well. The conductor, Paavo Järvi was amazing to watch, he uses his whole body to conduct – beautiful movements.
The acoustics in this room are crystal clear – it has recently been renovated, and there are many classical and jazz recordings from Salle Pleyel.
We returned to François’s place for an impromptu late supper and then I took one of the last métros home. A perfect Parisian evening to end my trip.
My favourite Serge Gainsbourg song (though that changes once in a while) is about another song – Les feuilles mortes (Autumn Leaves). Serge’s song is called La chanson de Prévert (Prévert’s Song) – lyrics by Jacques Prévert with music by Joseph Kosma. Here are the French lyrics, with the English translation by Alex Chabot.
Oh je voudrais tant que tu te souviennes
Cette chanson était la tienne
C’était ta préférée
Qu’elle est de Prévert et
Avec d’autres bien sûr je m’abandonne
Mais leur chanson est monotone
Et peu à peu je m’in-
A cela il n’est rien
Peut-on jamais savoir par où commence
Et quand finit l’indifférence
Passe l’automne vienne
Et que la chanson de
Cette chanson, LES FEUILLES MORTES
S’efface de mon souvenir
Et ce jour là
Mes amours mortes
En auront fini de mourir
Oh how I’d like you to remember
This song was yours
It was your favorite
It’s by Prévert and
With others of course I give up
But their song is monotonous
And little by little I lose in-
For that there isn’t anything
Can you ever know where the beginning
And end of indifference is
The autumn passes and brings
And nothing but Prévert’s
That song, DEAD LEAVES
Wipes itself from my memory
And on that day
My dead loves
Will have finished dying
Serge Gainsourg (Lucien Ginsburg) is buried with his parents Olga and Joesph Ginsburg in Cimetière du Montparnasse. There are always a lot of offerings from his fans – notes, métro tickets, cabbages, etc., all relating to song lyrics, quotations or moments in his life.
Serge Gainsbourg died on 2 March 1991. At the time I knew almost nothing about him – perhaps I had heard only one song: Je t’aime… Moi non plus. I watched the state funeral on TV and couldn’t believe how it brought the city to a standstill. I had to find out more about him, I started listening to his CD’s and fell in love with his music – I loved his word play, double and triple entendres that I don’t pretend to understand all of.
He was a legend before he died and he still is influencing French music from beyond the grave. His daughter, Charlotte, has preserved his home on Rue de Verneuil (where he died). The front wall is filled with graffiti homages to him – layer upon layer have been added these past twenty years.