”C’est si bon” Charles Aznavour, Gilbert Bécaud, Edith Piaf, Yves Montand, Jacques Brel, Juliette Gréco, Georges Brassens, Serge Gainsbourg, Dalida, Charles Trenet – collected on these 10 CDs are the truly greatest of chanson singers that the French so much adore. Some of them were also stars of the silver screen, such as Yves Montand and Serge Gainsbourg, style icons such as Juliette Gréco, or established writers and poets such as Georges Brassens. All, however, are national institutions in the country that cradled the genre which runs like a thread through French history.
In France singing was always an indispensible vehicle of expression in all strata of society, sometimes frivolous or bitingly satirical, at other times poetical, literary or political, but at the same time a critical commentary reflecting on contemporary affairs. The chanson tells of deep feeling, tragedy, longing, anxiety – but more than anything of love. It took part in historical events in the form of songs of revolution. The French national anthem, the Marseillaise, is nothing less than a chanson, a revolutionary battle song. The artistic home of the chanson in the 19th century was the legendary artists’quarter Montmartre. Their studios, the cafés, the absinth bars, dance clubs and cabarets on the city’s highest hill-top was a world were great art rubbed shoulders with social hardship. Montmartre draws people from all over the world still today, as do Montparnasse and Saint-Germaindes- Prés, the two other famous crystallisation points for music, literature and art in the Paris of the 20th century. The unforgettable charm of these areas, this city and its people is captured in these songs, from which quite some part of the French cultural heritage has stemmed. They are more than anything though a tribute to love, art and life!