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Gainsbourg's songs like you've never heard them before!
Jane Birkin has often dressed and undressed the works of Serge, the "legendary poet" whose songs she has been singing since the first album he composed for her, Serge Gainsbourg/Jane Birkin, released in 1969. Separation and even death made no difference: Jane wears the songs of her partner in music and life, whether they were created when they lived together or when the strength of their connection persisted beyond all conflict.
"It is a privilege that one of the greatest French writers wrote for me from the age of 20 to 45. In a way it never stopped. It's a strange situation. What can I do for him now, even though it's too late! At least I can wear him, take him with me. Say his words!"
After Arabesque, which she made with the Algerian violinist Djamel Benyelles in 2002, and Via Japan, created 10 years later with Japanese musicians, here is Birkin/Gainsbourg, Le Symphonique. Under the artistic direction of Philippe Lerichomme, "the man in the shadows", and Serge and Jane's travelling companion since the mid-1970s, 24 songs have been arranged by Nobuyuki Nakajima, "a great designer," according to Jane Birkin. "Nobu" was born in 1969 in the middle of Japan. He is a composer as well as a pianist. He is known for several film and television series soundtracks, including some created with Ryuichi Sakamoto, who composed the soundtracks for "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence," "The Last Emperor" and "High Heels."
Released in 2015, the album Broken Blossoms reflects Nobuyuki Nakajima's elegance and vast musical culture. From "L'Anamour" (1969) to "Lost Song" (1987), the universe of Serge and Jane has been rearranged along the lines of classical music, with the bonus of specially invited songs, such as "La Javanaise" (1963) written for Juliette Gréco and "Pull Marine" (1983) for Isabelle Adjani.
"Serge would have been delighted. He was always very moved by classical music, but he was modest, he was afraid that he wasn't good enough, even though he composed melodies such as La Javanaise and Fuir le bonheur! He was often inspired by the great composers, Brahms for Baby Alone In Babylon, Chopin for Jane B, Grieg for 'Lost Song' - it's as if he had to sublimate something."
Birkin/Gainsbourg: Le symphonique has a checkered history. It began in Japan in 2011, some time after the tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Japan had welcomed Serge and Jane, then Jane by herself, with all the passion of a French love song. Jane saw the scarred country and went to give two concerts there in support of this Japan "which lives on a fault line and knows it. The Japanese people live with this strangeness, courageously. They have cultivated the beauty of the ephemeral, beautiful dishes, which disappear when you eat them, flower arrangements."
In 2011 Jane Birkin unexpectedly recruited a pianist there to accompany her. She was introduced to Nobuyuki Nakajima, says Nobu. He writes "beautiful arrangements, so delicate, so moving," and this is how the quartets came about and the tour which lasted two years, with the Via Japan show. The transmutation happened in 2016 in Montreal, when the FrancoFolies Festival of Quebec asked her to create a "Gainsbourg Symphonic" concert with the Montreal Symphony Orchestraunder the direction of Simon Leclerc. "And that's it — it was in the bag," says Jane happily. The idea took shape to do an album, arranged by Nobu. "For a year, he worked with Philippe Lerichomme on the project, chose the songs most suited to symphonic music and Nobu's style, which is quite dramatic. For me there were one or two songs missing in their choice — in particular I added 'Une chose entre autres.' It's a personal message, in fact all the others are too, just like everything that he wrote after our separation, but this one says: "One thing among many that you do not know, you had the best of me more than any other. Yes, that seemed so true to me that I had the best of him. Until the day he died."
|01 Lost Song|
|02 Dépression au-dessus du jardin|
|03 Baby Alone In Babylone|
|04 Physique et sans issue|
|05 Ces petits riens|
|01 Valse de Melody|
|02 Fuir le bonheur de peur qu'il ne se sauve|
|03 Requiem pour un con|
|04 Une chose entre autres|
|05 Amour des feintes|
|01 Exercice en forme de Z|
|03 La chanson de Prévert|
|04 Les dessous chics|
|05 L'amour de moi|
|01 Pull marine|
|02 La gadoue|
|03 Jane B.|
|05 La Javanaise|