In a startling new departure for the French pianist Alexandre Tharaud, he invites a diverse group of musical friends to join him in celebrating Le Boeuf sur le toit, the legendary Paris cabaret that became a hotspot of Parisian and international culture in the heady 1920s. A confluence of jazzy musical currents brings together French composers like Ravel, Milhaud, Wiener and Doucet and American songwriters like Gershwin, Kern and Porter. The French pianist presents more than 20 items by a kaleidoscope of musical talent from both classical and popular milieux: Ravel, Milhaud, Gershwin, Kern, Porter, Kalman, W.C. Handy, the French piano duo Wiener and Doucet and more. Their point of convergence is the legendary Paris cabaret, Le Boeuf sur leRead more toit, a hotspot and melting pot of Parisian and international culture in the heady 1920s. Its name was appropriated by the cabaret’s owner, Louis Moysès, from the composer Darius Mihaud, who had used it for a celebrated orchestral score. Jean Cocteau, the Renaissance man of French artistic life in the mid-20th century, brokered the deal.
As Tharaud explains: “Cocteau – who was there almost every evening and sometimes used to play drums with the marvellous pianist and composer, Jean Wiener – embodied the spirit of Le Boeuf sur le toit. The pianist Clément Doucet also used to play there regularly. And, in the restaurant every evening, you would come across composers like Maurice Ravel, Erik Satie and the members of Les Six, like Francis Poulenc, Darius Milhaud, Germaine Tailleferre...or perhaps Stravinsky. There were French popular singers like Maurice Chevalier, Yvonne Georges, Mistinguett, Kiki de Montparnasse and then, among the throng, lots of artists, such as Man Ray, Picabia, Diaghilev, Coco Chanel, Georges Simenon, André Gide ... The cabaret’s importance in the history of jazz can be gauged by its immortalisation in the French term for having a jam session, ’faire le boeuf’. Read less
Darius InspiredNovember 29, 2012By John E. (Chicago, IL)See All My Reviews"A wonderful pastiche of peices that influenced composers in France during the Roaring Twenties. They didn't have to go to NY to hear jazz and swing."Report Abuse
Swinging! November 23, 2012By Daniel L. (Oakland, CA)See All My Reviews"Is there anything that this talented pianist can't do? Bach, Chopin, Poulenc? Now this. This CD evokes and creates a feeling and atmosphere for the music between the wars. You feel like you are right in the midst of the club in Paris, and everyone is in a party mood. Rarely heard fabulous arangements of "honky-tonk" versions of Chopin, Lizst and Wagner are my favorites, by the brilliant pianist and arranger Doucet. Tharaud performs these with non-chalant throw-away virtuosity. The vocal selections by various Parisian cabaret artists are a wonderful addition to the CD. It is fun to hear the juxtaposition of American tunes of the 20s and 30s and French songs with surreal texts by Cocteau and music by Les Six, who hung out here. The most innovative and enjoyable CD to come out in some time. I will be playing this over and over."Report Abuse