Michel Legrand — Romance, With Strings Attached

For his return to Birdland, French film composer Michel Legrand had the luxury of a lush string quartet and a guest harpist. Opening with a series of flourishing piano arpeggios, the string section added richly cinematic textures to "Watch What Happens," the durable theme from "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg," one of the more than 200 film and TV scores penned by the prolific three-time Oscar winner.

With:
Musicians: Lewis Nash, David Finck, Barry Findair, Robin Bushman, Richard Brice, Stephanie Cummins, Catherine Michel

For his return to Birdland, French film composer Michel Legrand had the luxury of a lush string quartet and a guest harpist. Opening with a series of flourishing piano arpeggios, the string section added richly cinematic textures to “Watch What Happens,” the durable theme from “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” one of the more than 200 film and TV scores penned by the prolific three-time Oscar winner.

Everyone remembers the song, but few remember the film “The Happy Ending,” a 1969 soaper that starred Jean Simmons, Shirley Jones and Bobby Darin. Legrand’s infectious romantic theme was “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?,” and he added subtle syncopation to the song’s continental allure.

With “Once Upon a Summertime,” the 77-year-old composer offered a serene vocal setting, set to Johnny Mercer’s picturesque lyrics and complimented by a playful scat chorus. Legrand’s sense of blithe lyricism and infectious melodic structure is never more boldly defined than in “The Summer Knows” from “Summer of ’42.”

His sense of romanticism, so keenly defined in his composing, his playing and his singing, is one of unalloyed beauty. While he has been playing his trademark repertoire for many years, he always manages to invite a fresh sense of variation and invention.

A bold classical sweep showcased the string quartet with “Family Fugue,” a piece well served by David Finck’s sinuous bass solo. A gifted and knowing jazz pianist, Legrand added imaginative tonal colors, letting the strings serve as velvety support.

Opening night brought guest Tony Bennett to the bandstand to join Legrand in a soaring duet of “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” It was one of those great impromptu unions of two masters of their craft. Despite a brief lapse in the lyrics that Bennett turned into a tasteful scat, the pair took the tune to rapturous heights, and the capacity aud on hand for the first set responded enthusiastically.  

Set closer found the composer joining his wife, harpist Catherine Michel, for an ambitious duet set to the Oscar-winning themes from “Yentl.”

Michel Legrand -- Romance, With Strings Attached

Birdland; 150 capacity; $60

Production: A Sofitel Luxury Hotels presentation produced by Pat Philips and Ettore Stratta. . Opened, reviewed March 3, 2009. Runs through March 8.

Cast: Musicians: Lewis Nash, David Finck, Barry Findair, Robin Bushman, Richard Brice, Stephanie Cummins, Catherine Michel

More Music

  • Greta Van Fleet Drop Fiery New

    Greta Van Fleet Drop Fiery New Song, ‘When the Curtain Falls’

    For his return to Birdland, French film composer Michel Legrand had the luxury of a lush string quartet and a guest harpist. Opening with a series of flourishing piano arpeggios, the string section added richly cinematic textures to “Watch What Happens,” the durable theme from “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” one of the more than 200 […]

  • Matt Sawin Capitol Music Group

    Caroline Names Matt Sawin Executive VP

    For his return to Birdland, French film composer Michel Legrand had the luxury of a lush string quartet and a guest harpist. Opening with a series of flourishing piano arpeggios, the string section added richly cinematic textures to “Watch What Happens,” the durable theme from “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” one of the more than 200 […]

  • Universal Music Group

    Universal Music Launches Nigerian Division

    For his return to Birdland, French film composer Michel Legrand had the luxury of a lush string quartet and a guest harpist. Opening with a series of flourishing piano arpeggios, the string section added richly cinematic textures to “Watch What Happens,” the durable theme from “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” one of the more than 200 […]

  • Minus the Bear, Long-Running Indie Rock

    Minus the Bear, Veteran Indie Rock Band, Announce Split, Farewell Tour

    For his return to Birdland, French film composer Michel Legrand had the luxury of a lush string quartet and a guest harpist. Opening with a series of flourishing piano arpeggios, the string section added richly cinematic textures to “Watch What Happens,” the durable theme from “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” one of the more than 200 […]

  • chance the rapper 2017 grammys

    Chance the Rapper Talks New Album, Kanye West Collaboration

    For his return to Birdland, French film composer Michel Legrand had the luxury of a lush string quartet and a guest harpist. Opening with a series of flourishing piano arpeggios, the string section added richly cinematic textures to “Watch What Happens,” the durable theme from “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” one of the more than 200 […]

  • Bruno Mars Grammys

    Recording Academy Announces Date, Deadlines for 2019 Grammy Awards

    For his return to Birdland, French film composer Michel Legrand had the luxury of a lush string quartet and a guest harpist. Opening with a series of flourishing piano arpeggios, the string section added richly cinematic textures to “Watch What Happens,” the durable theme from “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” one of the more than 200 […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content