Michel Legrand and the Cinema (2011)

by | Jun 22, 2011 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Michel Legrand and the Cinema (2011)

Live from Paris 2009, Salle Playel
Performers: Orchestre National D’Ile de France/Michael Legrand; Partrick Fiori, Liane Foly, Maurane, Catherine Michel, Mario Pelchat, Helen Segara
Program: [PlayList below]
Studio: Arthaus Musik 101 549 [5/31/11] (Distr. by Naxos)
Video: 1.77:1 for 16:9 color
Audio: French & English PCM Stereo
Subtitles: French, English, German
No region code
Extras: “Le Grand Michel” – Behind the Scenes feature – Interviews with Michel Legrand and other performers plus rehearsal footage of the concert (54 minutes)
Length: 161 minutes (with extras)
Rating: ****1/2

Now nearly 80, the international star puts together a spectacular evening of excerpts from some of his most beautiful film scores, with a terrific orchestra and many guest stars. Legrand has been a versatile singer, songwriter, composer, arranger, conductor and producer and is almost as well known in the North American as in France.  Five different big names in French song make guest appearances, and some of the music is from movies which we have not been exposed to in the U.S. (perhaps in Canada), but they all show the tuneful and vibrant music of Michel Legrand which has memorably accompanied films now for 50 years.  

There are songs and a balanced program of strictly instrumental suites from various films. Sometimes one hears the full orchestra in impressive scores, and other times a smaller jazz rhythm section. Legrand conducts and often plays the piano part with lots of improvisations on the music. He really swings on a couple of the jazz-tinged numbers. He also sings a number of the songs, which seems appropriate in the duets with guests, but gets somewhat painful in his high-pitched solos such as “Papa Can You Hear Me” from Yentl. Of course he was the composer of the music, so perhaps we should give him some slack. If you turn on the English subtitles you still won’t get translations of the songs in French, which is a shame.

My favorite was “La Chanson des Jumelles” from The Young Girls of Rochefort, his jazziest musical.  But the two singers seemed ill-matched and it made me want to see again the original scene in the film with Catherine Deneuve and Francoise Dorelac. The image quality was almost as good as Blu-ray – sharp in even the longer shots of the orchestra and stage, and the stereo sound gave a comfortable pseudo-surround effect with ProLogic II or DTS Neo-6.  The camera cutting may have been a bit too frequent, almost like a music video.


Sel. from: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Three Musketeers, Summer of ’42, The Picasso Summer, Wuthering Heights, A Matter of Resistance, The Married Couple of the Year Two, Call Me Savage, “Quand on s’aime,” The Young Girls of Rochefort, Brian’s Song, The Go-Between, The Happy Ending, Les Uns et les Autres, “Comme elle est longue a mourir ma jeunese,” Best Friends, La Bicyclette Bleue, Yentl, “La vales des lilas.”

 — John Sunier

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