July 25, 2021

In Paris, the Hall de la chanson celebrates the inventions of Charles Trenet

In the mid-1930s he was nicknamed the “Singing Madman” when he was making his debut as a solo artist after having created, in 1933, a successful duet with pianist Johnny Hess. For his dynamism on stage, agile silhouette, his wide, laughing eyes, his messy hair, especially for the rhythm he gave to the words in his interpretations and the writing of his texts. This way of swing in which Charles Trenet was, with Mireille in the lead or Ray Ventura, one of the ambassadors in the history of French song before the war.

At the Hall de la chanson, Parc de la Villette, in Paris, Trenet is called The ghost, title of the song that opens the show of the same name, directed by Serge Hureau and Olivier Hussenet. This song dates from 1970. Trenet is then a little behind the wave yéyé. It will become fashionable again in the 1980s. We can hear there his taste for the strange, reverie, a whimsical surrealist (“When a hammer breaks down / A tenor from the opera / Repairs him with all his might / Then he dies of apoplexy / Like a real stuffed tomato”), returns to the past, the “Nostalgia for youth” as a common thread mentioned by Hureau and Hussenet in a short presentation text.

Loving memory

Seventeen songs are on the program, a probably difficult selection, among the hundreds written, composed and performed by Trenet. Very famous: I sing, Papa spades and mama sews, The Extraordinary Garden, Faithful. Others who quickly come to mind, as long as we have paid a little attention to Trenet: The Mad Lament, There were trees, At the night ball, When I was little I loved you. And some more distant, secret, Renaud, Renaud, La Pavane des patronages, L’Oiseau des vacances.

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On the stage meet an elderly Trenet, staying in a care and fitness home, and a young Trenet, who occasionally becomes another character, like that of the vagabond of I sing, of a loving memory in When I was little, I loved you or by becoming The Son of the Fish Woman. Serge Hureau plays the first and Loïc Renard the second. They sometimes sing together, sometimes alone, complement each other. With them, Clément Caratini (saxophone, clarinets, organ…), Lionel Privat (guitars, mandolin, banjo) and Richard Dubelski (drums, percussions), who also intervene in voices and in various paintings.

Very famous songs are on the program, others that quickly come back to memory, and then some more distant, secret

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