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Hyperion Records

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Sunday morning promenaders on the Boulevard du Bois de Boulogne by Yoshio Markino
Mary Evans Picture Library, Blackheath, London
Track(s) taken from CDH55163
Recording details: October 1985
Toronto, Canada
Produced by Anton Kwiatowski
Engineered by Anton Kwiatowski
Release date: August 1987
Total duration: 9 minutes 58 seconds

'Claudette Leblanc is a major recording discovery. A model presentation—landmark, classic, and indispensable' (Fanfare, USA)

'This really must be a find for those who wish to be captivated by some relatively unknown turn-of-the-century French songs' (Hi-Fi News)

Sept Chansons pour Gladys, Op 151
composer
26 August - 3 September 1935; inspired by events in the film Calais-Douvres in which Lilian Harvey played the role of Gladys O'Halloran, the little newspaper-seller
author of text
Humoristic poems

Introduction  EnglishFrançais
Between 1933 and 1938 Koechlin became fascinated by the stars of the early sound movies and in particular by the now-forgotten Lilian Harvey, in whose honour he composed 113 short piano pieces and the song cycle Sept chansons pour Gladys. These seven ‘pièces humoristiques’ with adulatory, faintly moralizing blank verse by Koechlin himself, celebrate Lilian’s performance as Gladys O’Halloran, the little newspaper vendor in Anatol Litvak’s film Calais-Douvres (1931). First seeing the film in the autumn of 1934 inspired four piano pieces for his album The Portrait of Daisy Hamilton (for which he also wrote a film scenario starring Lilian Harvey and himself). Then returning to the film on 26 August 1935 inspired ‘M’a dit Amour’ which grew into the cycle that marked the end of Koechlin’s 45-year songwriting career. In these songs, Koechlin made no distinction between Lilian’s screen and real-life personalities, and the ‘humorous and whimsical’ aspect can be seen in ‘Le cyclone’, where he makes an elaborate play on words between the identical surnames of Lilian Harvey and the Englishman who discovered the circulation of the blood! This point forms the only substantial climax in the cycle.

The element of sixteenth-century modal counterpoint that runs through much of Koechlin’s film music can clearly be seen in the linear ‘M’a dit Amour’, and ‘La naïade’ starts with a quotation from Beaujoyeulx’s Le balet comique de la Royne (1581), including such deliberate archaisms as ‘cuydois’ (think), ‘emmy’ (among) and ‘souëf’ (supple) in macaronic conjunction with a Latin paraphrase of Catullus at the close and the Americanism ‘lovely’ en route! Elsewhere Koechlin pokes fun at the banal endings of most commercial film scenarios and compares Lilian to Botticelli’s Venus within what must be one of the most unlikely and intriguing compositions of all time.

from notes by Robert Orledge © 2010

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