Michel Rivard and associates immerse themselves in the repertoire of Georges Brassens


Noon, Tuesday. The rehearsal is going well, although it is in full swing at the Plaza Theater. The first show of the tribute tour to Georges Brassens, offered by La Maison Fauve to celebrate the centenary of his birth (and the 40th anniversary of his death, of course), bringing together a fine band of performers under the name of Polissons de la chanson, takes place on April 30 at the Salle Pauline-Julien de Sainte-Geneviève. It comes fast.

There is no time to lose. Or rather: there is no time to lose. They catch us as soon as we enter. Mario Légaré’s double bass, pom pom, popom popom, seems to mark time on the (endless) stairs of the old cinema: we follow the rhythm naturally. There is no option! The whole body agrees. Happy to agree. The music stops suddenly: instinctively, we stop. And then it starts again. And here we go again up the stairs, up, up. And the beautiful voice of Valérie Blais resonates: “The dragons of virtue are not offended / If I had had the honor to command aboard / Aboard the Titanic when he was shipwrecked / he would have shouted: “Adulterous women first!” »

Vibraphone and “big fun”

A few more steps and we are there. The Plaza resounds, the Plaza purrs quietly. Here there is also a vibraphone, it is François Lalonde who walks around the double bass. And in one corner is the guitar of Yves Desrosiers, both discreet and very busy. There are variations on a song by Brassens. It must be confusing, we say. “Let’s take this opportunity to break a cliché about Brassens”, launches Michel Rivard directly into our microphone. ” Yes, The gorilla, that’s in a note. But the science of chords and melodies in Brassens is incredible. When you attack a song, not only do you have a text structure where each syllable has its place, but there are skillful, surprising, demanding and fascinating modulations in the music that never fail to delight you. »

To tell the truth, and everyone says so, Rivard as well as Blais, the three musicians, Chantal Archambault as well as Michel-Olivier Gasse (the Saratoga duo), Luc De Larochellière as well as Ingrid St-Pierre (who wasn’t there on Tuesday, covidian precaution obliges): behind the singer Brassens not too focused on the show, hides a fabulous craftsman to the cliché. The truth: the freest man of expression in French song is also the most disciplined. Mastery of true art is at this price. “We all feel it, while we sing them,” adds Valérie Blais. The more we appropriate the songs, the more we respect what Brassens asks for with such precision, and the more we each discover the room for maneuver that he gives us. For me, it’s a lot of punctuation that allows accentuation, mini-pauses… the tools of a theatricality that gives dimension to the text. Brassens is intimidating, but not petty, behind his mustache: you have to tame him. Rivard exudes confidence as he salivates with pleasure behind the sanitary mask. “There really is a way to have great funny… »

The Trumpet Cast (of fame)

At four titles from the head of the tube, there is plenty to do. It is both a lot and a little, considering the 1500 pages of complete works (including, of course, letters, prefaces, libertarian writings…). However, you have to choose. Between the obvious and the misunderstood, balancing also requires some discipline. Freely consented, of course. “It was also distributed according to personalities”, underlines Michel-Olivier Gasse. “We both have more affable songs, which we can approach in a playful way, I would say. » Chantal Archambault specifies: “There was also the fact of being a girl and a boy, not all songs lend themselves to that. At first, we don’t want to shock the purists, and then we realize that Brassens has been very much on the side of women. Much more than a Brel or a Ferré, to compare the incomparable.

Luc De Larochellière rejoices: it will be a recess. “Pure happiness remains, this idea of ​​a show, and this tour where we are going to play almost every day. It is light to live, we are together, no one carries the weight of Brassens alone. There, in the rehearsal, we are in the phase in which we solve the problems one by one, in which we face the trap, in which everyone looks for their marks and reacts to what Brassens demands. It is a great discipline! This show, as long as no one gets sick, is good air. After the last two years we received Brassens as a gift, a reward. We meet. And we play music. We don’t necessarily stick to guitar and bass accompaniment. »

Motto, don’t chew words

We know at least since I have an appointmentyou with you, the show that the sublime Renée Claude dedicated to the Brassens repertoire, with piano accompaniment by Philippe Noireaut: you can go far with the modest and sensitive Georges, without deviating from the essential. Thus, in the version ofin the wood of my heartthat seems made for Michel Rivard, there steel back that opens the horizon, courtesy of Yves Desrosiers. “This is where you realize the possibilities,” rejoices the musical director of the adventure. We always stay close to the Brassens style, but not too close. Let’s go for what works. It is a splendid challenge for us too. Make music leaving the best place to the texts. »

“No one is going to chew on Brassens’ words,” declares Rivard almost solemnly. We love you words! Georges will keep an eye on things. Valérie Blais saw Brassens on stage and Michel Rivard shook her hand. Just one degree of separation. For many viewers, he will almost touch it. For those who will discover Brassens, yes you can! —, the occasion is to be cherished. All the participants share a very simple principle, which Rivard expresses perfectly: trust in the repertoire. The songs, as long as they are released in the open air, will have their effect. “I say: expose them! ” That’s all.

Song jokes. Tribute to Georges Brassens

Michel Rivard, Luc De Larochellière, Valérie Blais, Ingrid St-Pierre and Saratoga. Directed by Alice Ronfard, under the musical direction of Yves Desrosiers. On tour in Quebec, starting April 30.

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