Christmas Songs the Anglo World Stole from the French!
I’m sure you think O Holy Night and Angels We Have Heard on High are English or American songs. Well, no! And as a Francophile you should try them in their original language: French! You should also try some that you’ve probably never heard but are absolutely lovely, i.e. Un flambeau Jeannette Isabelle and Quelle est cette odeur agréable?
So here are French Christmas songs on my playlist–which I’ve been playing non-stop since the day after Thanksgiving, because even though, like most French people, I’m not religious, I do love Christmas. I hope you like them too!
La marche des rois, by the Maîtrise de la Cathédrale de Strasbourg
Minuit, Chrétiens by Ensemble Vocal l’Alliance
Un flambeau Jeannette Isabelle by the Cambridge Singers
Noël Nouvelet by Ensemble Vocal l’Alliance
Quelle est cette odeur agréable ? by La Petite Bande de Montréal.
Quittez, pasteurs by the Cambridge Singers.
Entre le boeuf et l’âne gris by Les Petits Chanteurs d’Aix en Provence
L’enfance du Christ, Berlioz by Collegium Vocale Gent
Venez mes enfants, by Ensemble vocal l’Alliance
Petit Papa Noël, by Tino Rossi
Il est né le divin enfant by the Maîtrise de la Cathédrale de Strasbourg
Les anges dans nos campagnes, by Ensemble vocal l’Alliance
Messe de Noël de minuit pour Noël (Marc-Antoine Charpentier) by the Virgin Consort
My new favorite song by Maurane, and mind you, I love all her songs.
Recent French Music
There are a lot of reasons why one would not normally guess that I’d recommend Carla Bruni’s album. One, she’s gorgeous and as a rule I have a problem with gorgeous women because they make it much more difficult for me to get noticed. Second, she’s married to former French President Sarkozy. Not a human being that gives me warm-fuzzies. BUT her music is good! She does this whispering into the microphone that can grate on my nerves when sometimes, but she pulls it off and she’s on top of that genre if you ask me. She also hired an outstanding team of musicians, and voilà! music that’s pleasant to listen to. Some in English, some in French, light and fun.
Dessay and Legrand are powerhouses of French music and when they come together it makes sparks. Legrand is a jazzman and composer (three Oscars, including Windmills of Your Mind and Yentl and five Emmys) and Dessay is an opera singer who was a fixture at the Metropolitan Opera and has performed all over the world to wild acclaim. They released this album in 2013 and it’s such a joy to listen to! I had the pleasure to see them live in Toulouse and had great seats on the first row and the whole night it felt like Dessay was singing to me. She owns the stage. Legrand is a distinguished older French gentleman who can play a piano like a God in his 80s. You will love to hear familiar tunes and discover some that are only famous in France. And if you get a chance to see them live, GO!
This is a compilation of Debussy’s “top hits” for orchestra. Nice selection, good recordings, this is great for the person who wants to get their feet wet with French classical music. Wonderful thinking music. When you need something where you’ll recognize a tune here and there, but for the most part, you want to go into a pleasant thinking mode.