18 March, 2012

Allons, enfants !

After the Pink Floyd concert last January, Les Métaboles have been invited to participate in another professional recording, this time of the French national anthem, as orchestrated by Hector Berlioz in the 19th century.

So this afternoon I took all my patriotic feelings with me into the large recording studio with the chamber orchestra Les Siècles playing on romantic period instruments and a large choir. I found it quite exalting to sing my own country's national anthem in a professional setting. It is often decried as violent and bellicose, but it is still our national anthem. Berlioz has set the sixth verse as a moving a cappella section for men before the whole orchestra, tenor solo and choir join in again for the final refrain. On several instances I even found it difficult to concentrate on my singing as I was overwhelmed by the music we were singing and the words calling upon our Dear Liberty.

If the musical experience was very rich, the lunch that was provided to us was frugal: patriots are fed by their ideals... One ham-or-chicken and lettuce sandwich, a bottle of water, a slice of chocolate cake, an apple or mandarin. Staying on the patriotic side, I must admit the baguette bread of our sandwiches was excellent: crispy outside, soft and fluffy inside and with lots of healthy grains.

Rather than recommending another recording of the piece, I prefer to wait for our own recording to be published so that the young professional musicians and singers can earn part of their living from it. Instead, I suggest you listen to an iconoclastic but now classical reggae version.

Aux armes et caetera
Serge Gainsbourg, Aux armes et caetera, Mercury records

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