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Joseph KOSMA
Francois Le Roux (baritone) Jeff Cohen (piano) with members of the Matrix Ensemble.
Decca Entartete Musik 460 050-2[78.32]

Here is an interesting collection of chansons by the composer of Les Feuilles Morts. Budapest born, Joseph Cosma (1905-69) studied in Berlin from where he fled to Paris in 1933, was saved from poverty by Jaques Prevert, leading to the film music for which he became renowned. His scores include Les Visiteurs du Soir and Les Enfants du Paradis. His colourful life story is recounted in the full notes for this Entartete Musik release and we are provided with full texts and translations, which are invaluable. He wrote extensively in all genres, with three operas and his last piece a clarinet concertino. His aim was for music to reflect 'the marvels of everyday life' and his tonal idiom synthesises Slav and Germanic elements. Kosma has an individual voice, less simple than first appears.

Thirty-seven tracks, some with accordion, clarinet & strings, this is an invigorating and sometimes thought-provoking survey. Sometimes Le Roux sounds a little too well-groomed for the Chanson idiom, maybe, but the production is well conceived, with many evocative photos, and a few piano pieces included. A novelty well worth acquiring.

I have admired Le Roux's CDs with Jeff Cohen long before he appeared at Covent Garden as Birtwistle's Gawain, reviewed in S&H at its revival. Try also some of his earlier CDs for REM of French melodie: Duparc REM 311049; Hahn REM 311069; Faure REM 311175 (including the chamber version of La Bonne Chanson).

Peter Grahame Woolf

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