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Nusch (1998) - L'Appareil Photo/Nippon Columbia COCY 80858
nusch cover image

Track list: Bleuet/La Grenouillère/Montparnasse/Lune d'Avril/C/Mouvement Perpétuel No.3/Une Ruine Coquille Vide/C'est le joli Printemps/La Reine de Coeur/Hôtel/Ce Doux Petit Visage/Novelette No.3, sur un thême de Manuel de Falla/Nous Avons Fair la Nuit/Tu Vois le Feu du Soir/ Les chemins de l'Amour

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Just after completing the recording of Azure, Danny and I got the Bosendorfer in and committed 13 songs and 2 piano pieces to tape at the Sound Suite, in Camden, London. The recording took but a few hours, and was mixed and sent to Shoichi of L'Appareil Photo in Japan, who masterminded the release of a record quite unlike any of our other efforts in early July 1998. The tracklist is a mixture of "standards" and lesser-known songs, which very much belong to the "lyrical" vein of Francis Poulenc...

We kick off with a forgotten masterpiece, Bleuet, writtten in 1939, a lament for lost youth written by Guillaume Apollinaire while he was caught in the eye of a storm called the First World War. I know of nothing more moving in Poulenc's music than its closing line :"O douceur d'autrefois/Lenteur immemoriale" ("O for the sweetness of yesterdays/Immemorial slowness", in my awful translation - but didn't Knigsley Amis argue that poetry was in essence untranslatable?);

Bleuet is followed by an old favourite, which Danny and I have been playing regularly in our gigs, La Grenouillere, another nostalgic Apollinaire piece, so evocative of the bars and dancing-halls (the "gargottes") which welcomed factory workers and glitterati alike by the Seine on summer Sundays, and have now been bulldozed and forgotten.

Montparnasse follows, an update of the Sunshine version, but with all the right notes, this time. But no other song was as difficult - and emotionally draining - to record than Eluard's Tu Vois le Feu du Soir, four minutes of quasi-mystical intensity which call upon every nuance and every shade of colour from both interpreters, and which, in my mind, are only rivalled in sheer beauty by Schubert's Winterreise. It's up to you to say if we managed to capture its mysterious grandeur.

What I can vouch for is Danny's excellence on Mouvement Perpétuel No.3 and Novelette No.3, two pieces which evoke Chopin, Satie and the Folies-Bergere in equal measure...Danny's own favourite, by the way, is a tour-de-force called C'est Le Joli Printemps, a lesser-known song which relies on the sparsest of accompaniments to highlight the most haunting of melodies - and a striking modulation straight out of Les Animaux Modeles. Wonderful stuff, believe me. Pop it isn't, even if the directness and apparent simplicity of the music should appeal to anyone with half an ear. And we'll do more. I am ploughing through Poulenc's catalogue at the moment, and a "Vol. 2" will follow in due course. That's a promise...

Louis Philippe, 1998

Featured Musicians: Louis Philippe (voice); Danny Manners (piano)

Production: Recorded at The Sound Suite, Camden, London by Randolph Stubbs; Pre-Production at Chiswick Reach Studios by Nick Terry.

Listen to/download Le Grenouillè from this album

Lyrics for this album

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