Natalie Dessay and Michel Legrand – Entre elle et lui [TrackList follows] – Erato 934148 2 [10/29/13] *****:
(Natalie Dessay, voice; Michel Legrand, piano & voice; Pierre Boussaquet, doublebass; Francois Laizeau, drums; Patricia Petibon, voice on tr. 10; Laurent Naouri, voice on tr. 13; Catherin Michael, harp on tr. 18)
We receive so many female vocalist discs to review that we just can’t keep up with all of them, but this one caught my ear immediately and forced me to review it. It is their first together and Legrand says in his notes that Dessay – who had had quite a career as a soprano in classical opera and songs – gives his songs a whole new life and he loves hearing her reinvent them. Dessay was born the year after the premiere of Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and she says singing with Michel Legrand makes her feel like she is six years old all over again. As a child she dreamed of being a star like Catherine Deneuve. An opera director asked her what she would do if she had carte blanche on the choice of a project. She said she would like to sing Michael Legrand’s songs. Soon he arranged for her to do just that with a 22-piece orchestra.
Natalie had never before sung with a mic on a stage, and had to work hard to get to know her new voice and how to use it in the songs. She says she must be completely in the moment, sharing the music and the text. She mentions a sense of continuity “because it’s about interpreting new repertoire and putting it across with as much integrity and as much joy as you can.” Legrand himself says that he never gets tired of performing with Natalie—that it takes years off him each time they do it, because she sings his songs like nobody else in the world.
The 18 tracks never make you think of an opera singer struggling to deliver some pop music, as many do. She has a clear and not overly sexy new voice with perfect French diction. You must accept that most of the songs are of course in French. There are only three in English: “Papa Can You Hear Me?”, “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?,” and “The Summer Knows.” The bass-baritone on “Duo de Guy” is Natalie’s husband, Laurent Naouri. There’s no 22-piece orchestra but the lighter accompaniment seems to fit the songs well and spotlights Dessay’s lovely voice. Some may prefer the wistful original versions of some of these songs in the famous films, but this is altogether a wonderful collection of Michael Legrand’s songs.
TrackList:Chanson de Delphine (from the movie Les Demoiselles de Rochefort) Le Cinéma Chanson de Delphine à Lancien (from the movie Les Demoiselles de Rochefort) Papa can you hear me? (from Yentl) Recette pour un Cake d’Amour (from the movie Peau d’Âne) La valse des lilas Les moulins de mon coeur (from the movie The Thomas Crown Affair) L’âme soeur à l’hameçon What are you doing the rest of your life? Chanson des jumelles (from the movie Les Demoiselles de Rochefort) Le rouge et le noir Conseil de la Fée Lilas (from the movie Peau d’Âne) Duo de Guy et Geneviève (from the movie Les Parapluies de Cherbourg) with Laurent Naouri (bass-baritone) La chanson de Louba La chanson Paris Violon The Summer Knows Mon dernier concert