Hyperion Records

Sept Chansons pour Gladys, Op 151
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

'Koechlin: Le cortège d'Amphitrite & other songs' (CDH55163)
Koechlin: Le cortège d'Amphitrite & other songs
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55163  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
No 1: M'a dit Amour
No 2: Tu croyais le tenir
No 3: Prise au piège  Tu croyais prendre et tu es prise
No 4: La naïade  Quand tu nageois emmy Syrènes et Tritons, gente naïde au corps souëf
No 5: Le cyclone  Un cyclone?
No 6: La colombe  Gladys! Gladys!
No 7: Fatum  L'Homme ne peut rien contre l'Amour, la Femme non plus

Sept Chansons pour Gladys, Op 151
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

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDH55163 track 4
Prise au piège
Recording date
1 October 1985
Recording venue
Toronto, Canada
Recording producer
Anton Kwiatowski
Recording engineer
Anton Kwiatowski
Hyperion usage
  1. Koechlin: Songs (CDA66243)
    Disc 1 Track 4
    Release date: August 1987
    Deletion date: August 2005
    Superseded by CDH55163
  2. Koechlin: Le cortège d'Amphitrite & other songs (CDH55163)
    Disc 1 Track 4
    Release date: March 2010
    Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
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