Juliette Greco belongs to that family of artists one might refer to as interpreters rather than performers, not that people always grasp the term’s full meaning. This is not simply a matter of magnifying the texts of a writer; in reality it’s much more, they give them life.
In the beginning with a helping hand from a certain Jean-Paul Sartre, Juliette Greco ordained herself as a servant of the noble word. Devoted entirely to the cause of that fine literature set to music which young geniuses — they were either already famous or about to become so — would place at her feet like bundles of flowers, waiting for her performances with such singular and always masterfully moving interpretations, to change them into bouquets of stars.
Juliette Greco was one of the first to agree to sing the emotionally-charged texts of the young Belgian writer, performer and composer whom the world would soon recognize by the name Jacques Brel. And so listening to this Gréco chante Brel has something of a ‘summit-meeting’ about it, even if that is stating the obvious; above all, the listener is witness to a confrontation of staggering emotion between two legends in the world of French song.
Twelve titles were impeccably (re)set to music by the legendary pianist, seminal composer and faithful companion of the Great Jacques, and who is also, accessorily, the pianist, composer and real-life husband of ‘La Greco’: Gérard Jouannest.
The twelve titles, whose arrangements are at the same time modern and classical, also wonderful in their strength and delicacy, are orchestrated by the pianist/conductor Bruno Fontaine, whom François Rauber — the other pianist, composer and arranger in the legendary triumvirate formed together with Brel and Jouannest — had personally helped to extend his horizons beyond the universe of classical music.
Twelve great classics of French song (Ces gens-là, Les vieux, Amsterdam, Ne me quitte pas, Bruxelles, La chanson des vieux amants, Fils de, etc.) are revisited by the singer who, since her debut, has without contest shone brilliantly in the firmament of a galaxy of performers of genius who turned our world upside down as soon as they pronounced their very first syllable.
Who else was such a fabulous muse, such a scandalous inspiration, for the most brilliant artists of our time?
Juliette Greco and Jacques Brel have this in common: neither of them was ever afraid to be at odds with what had to be said or what had to be done. They always chose to play or sing their own music, hence their modernity, their quality of belonging to their times… Gréco chante Brel, or the fabulous record of a perpetual reinvention.