"Chantons le Muguet au jardin de la cour"

An Evening of French Love Music by Maryse Edon and Zarbi & the Citroënellas on 21 May 2001

Our "courtyard garden", its tables bedecked with lily-of-the-valley, the French love-posy traditionally offered in May, might as well and as accurately be translated as the "garden of courtship". Ours is a garden intended to promote conversation and warm exchange, rather than botanical fascination or horticultural prowess. On 21st May it richly built upon that purpose.

The Bath Festival, whose theme for 2001 was Love, had begun in unforgettable French glory with the Wedding Music for Henry IV (of France and Navarre), performed in the Abbey in old northern French ("Langue d'Oil"), accompanied on sackbutts and other ancient instruments. Maryse Edon, with Zarbi and the Citroënellas, brought us magically up to date, with an evening of gallic charm and passion centred around the songs of Edith Piaf; Juliette Gréco, Jacques Brel, Guy Béart, Henri Salvador, Charles Trenet (who had died in February), and one of her own. Piaf means sparrow; there is also a charming lightness of physique in Maryse Edon, but there is a profundity of passion in her delivery, and in her most accomplished and sympathetic accordion performance. With her played her regular guitarist, Peter Finch, also a Bath resident, together with Tony Bevir (double bass). They were joined by the virtuosi David Kebbie (2nd guitar) and Chris Garrick (violin) whose breathtaking interlude renditions in the style of Django Rheinhardt and Stéphane Grapelli had feet tapping into the late hours.

Staging for the orchestra was devised and built by the Institution "bricoleur" Bob Draper, lighting and recording facilities were rigged by the indefatigable Adrian Tuddenham, and "accueil", from registration to drinks was attended to with only just sub-native gallic urbanity by Michael Mollett. Biographical programme notes on the composers, words of Trenet songs for us all to sing, modest interval refreshments, a painful rendition of Trenet's "La Mer", and general organisation were to be blamed on Martin Sturge.

Martin Sturge