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Jane Birkin’s Arabesque

Jane Birkin’s Arabesque

Jane Birkin – voice
Djamel Benyelles – violin
Fred Maggi – piano
Amel El Mansouri – oud
Aziz Boularoug – arabic percussion

"As passionate guardian of the memory of her mentor, Serge Gainsbourg, Jane Birkin has interpreted his work to a lusty backing of Arabic, Andalusian and oriental influences … In the charged atmosphere, her breathy vulnerability is as endearing as her artless stage presence."

- The Guardian

Jane Birkin comes to Ireland as guest of honour of the IFI French Film Festival, but there is more to La Petite Anglaise, as her adoring French public call her, than an iconic presence in the European cinema. For Birkin has been an enigmatic voice in French music from the late 60’s to the present day and now, with Arabesque, she presents a moving tribute and exotic reinvention of the songs of her late husband Serge Gainsbourg.

Beyond Je T’aime, Gainsbourg’s 1969 sleazy homage to the priapic with his then ingénue muse Birkin, his importance as a songwriter has been sadly overlooked outside the Francophone world. Here, Jane Birkin reveals the potency of the music Gainsbourg penned with her fragile voice in mind, and songs like Valse de Melody, Et Quand Bien Même and La Javanaise are renewed with a quiet authority and grace, borne of her intimate familiarity with their author.

Equally, she revels in their dramatic new surroundings, and Arabesque is tinged with the subtle shadings, accents and spices of The Maghreb, voiced by five outstanding North African musicians in Djamel Benyelles, virtuoso violinist and collaborator with Khaled and Cheb Mami, pianist Fred Maggi, the keening intensity of the oud form Amel El Mansouri and the hypnotic Gnawan percussion of Aziz Boularoug.

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