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Friday, 11 October 2013

Friday's French music break - Patricia Petibon and Natalie Dessay, " La chanson des jumelles"

Friday's French Music break this week is perhaps an example of what happens when two worlds collide - musically speaking.

It's a remake of " La chanson des jumelles" from Jacques Demy's 1967 musical "Les Demoiselles de Rochefort" which starred real life sisters (although not twins) Catherine Deneuve as Delphine and the late Françoise Dorléac as Solange.

Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac (screenshot from clip of "Les Demoiselles de Rochefort")

In this new version Patricia Petibon (Delphine) and Natalie Dessay (Solange) team up with Michel Legrand, who composed the music for the film (Demy wrote the lyrics) to deliver what is...well a rather disappointing rendition.

Now opera buffs will be familiar with both women as they're well known coloratura sopranos, and there's no doubting the talent of either.

Petibon is highly rated for her performance of French Baroque music and Dessay can and has turned her vocal cords to just about anything and everything operatic. Plus she can act.

Somehow though, the obvious polish and perfection of their voices is ill-suited to what is, after all, a rather light and completely charming song.

Sure, the remake swings seriously as it benefits from Legrand on piano alongside Pierre Boussaguet on bass and François Laizeau on drums (they're excellent).

But the voices just...well...lack the magic of the original version.

Although neither Deneuve nor Dorléac actually sang in the film - they both performed playback to the to recordings of professional singers Anne Germain (Deneuve) and Claude Parent (Dorléac) - the routine was an unforgettable one from the moment when, "out of nowhere", a trumpet sounded the theme of the song.

Judges for yourselves with a compare and contrast.

First up the version from Petibon and Dessay; well sung (it would be unfair to say otherwise) with a superb musical arrangement but lacking pep.

It's a track from the album "Entre elle et lui", due to be released on October 21 and on which Dessay and Legrand revisit some popular classics.

The pair (Dessay and Legrand that is) are also set to play several dates over the next few months, kicking off with Olympia in Paris a week after the album's release.

And then that clip from the film starring Deneuve and Dorléac.

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