LE FIGARO. – In what state of mind are you while out your first disc exclusively classical?

Michel LEGRAND. – In the same state of mind when I composed these concertos. I wanted to reflect the joy, the movement. The music carries away the listener in all directions, as it carries me, me. As she has always prevailed. The classical music is like cinema. I’ve always preferred the plans short to the long tracking shots.

The two concertos are very fast-paced. Determination not to give in to the facility?

this is It. Especially in the piano concerto, where I interpret the part of the soloist. My other me said Legrand lazy: “My man, you’re going to write difficult, in a heartbeat stravinskienne with arpeggios rotten to play…”

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Call-would you rather be at the piano or at the table?

The two of them. I’m at the piano to warm-up, the preparation. I play, I’m looking for, I let the piano take it away. Me take it away. And when I feel it has opened something in me, a small door, harmonic or melodic, I turn around to write on the small table just behind me.

An approach similar to the improvisation, in sum…

The improvisation I have always used extensively. Improvisation is instant composition, instinctive. I owe a lot to my nights of jazz with people like Oscar Peterson. We have done a lot of concerts together. I compare it to Richter.

In what sense?

I’ve had the chance to see them play Sviatoslav. I was bent over the keyboard as he was playing the Flight of The bumblebee in octave with the right hand. I said to myself: “This is not a man.” I’ve always had a huge respect for those who lose the spirit to work with the body. Who were the hands and heart before the brain in the music.

Can you happen the brain when we compose?

I did the conservatory in the class of Nadia Boulanger. We disséquait the works. One day, Stravinsky comes to direct at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, and the class moves for the repetition. I find myself sitting between Nadia and the teacher. I asked him what he thought of the book of analysis that Pierre Boulez has devoted to the Rite of spring . He replied: “There is a reason for each note, each stroke of the instrument, each pace. But I’ve never thought about any of this. When there is a true creator, one does not know very well what you did!”

“In the 1950s, I began a career as an arranger. I had become a kind of passage”

Michel Legrand

Is this also your case?

Yes. Especially when, like me, one is always a beginner. I have spent my life in the joy of music. Of all the music. And if I managed to do this, it is because I have always held to stay a beginner. This has enabled me to achieve my ambition by periods. As a painter.

Which will you prefer?

All of them. In the 1950s, I began a career as an arranger. I had become a sort of rite of passage. All the world was calling to me: Barbra Streisand, Barbara, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett. And then, at the end of ten years, I’ve had enough. I was in sec So I took a “new wave”. I had to start all over again by discovering the job of composer for the cinema.

do You remember your debut?

Oh yeah! It was very bad. There was another who had to remember it for a long time, it is the film director Henri Verneuil, because it, I was never asked for. (Laughter.) It was for a film called Les Amants du Tage . I pulled the hair out with the timing. It was totally new to me. To such a point that I had to re-film Lovers in The timing… And, again, at the end of ten years, I’ve been in need of change. I knew about the New Wave by heart. I knew all their stuff. I have gone to the United States.

meanwhile, there had been Godard…And, especially, Jacques Demy! The Land , which has won six academy awards, stands as a tribute to you and Demy. Did you see it?

Yes. Damien Chazelle, the director, called me one day when he is in Paris. He said to me: “I would like to show you a film that I just made in reference to your work with Jacques Demy. I saw The Umbrellas of Cherbourg twenty-three times in a row and it changed my life.” It was very touching. His film is a marvel. A staging superb, full of panache.

You start to doubt yourself, you are engaging in The Umbrella , that the film would have such an impact fifty years later?

How? We were so slapped when we did the film. One day, James calls me and tells me about his scenario. I read the script and I said unto him: “this is a musical comedy!” He answers me: “You’re crazy!” We had already made Lola , that he had wanted as a musical, but, having no money, he had shot like a normal film in black and white. In short, it goes to work. One day, on the island of Noirmoutier, I like the idea of this scene to the jeweler, where Emery sings: “We are in a difficult situation.” This was the place. We realize that if we made a musical with texts every day and arias strung together without narration or in-between, it was something that was never done.

How long to write?

A month. More than a year to sell the project. We did the tour of all the producers. I was at the piano, they sang all the roles in James I turned over the pages by knocking down the partitions. One would have said a gag of Buster Keaton.

Until the day when you cross Pierre Lazareff…

We already knew. He sends a pneumatic. Three days later, phone call: “I understood nothing, but it looks nice. Wednesday, in my office.” And there, he explains to us that he has a “friend” who would like to become a producer. She will produce our film, but in fact, it is him who pays. As he had the long arm, he managed to find a small distribution of three weeks. To our surprise, we remained nine months. The film had been made with pieces of twine. Deneuve had been paid 500 francs. In the final scene, with the travelling in the snow, we had no crane. I was pulling on a rope to mount a camera on wheels along a rail. (Laughter.)

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Hollywood was a different atmosphere…

I vivotais from film to film. One day, Norman Jewison asked me to The Thomas Crown Affair . They have five hours of film, do not know how to ride. I tell them: “I’m going to call an hour and a half of music, and you step on it.” It had never made it to Hollywood. But it worked.

And you won your first Oscar…

That doesn’t say much, Oscar. It is a piece of sugar, a caress. We don’t write better or less well after that. My friend Lalo Schifrin, himself, had never had. What it has changed, however, is that all of the films passed by me.

“I owe a lot to my nights of jazz with personnalitéscomme Oscar Peterson”

Michel Legrand

What kind of a relationship did you have with your “competitors”?

Excellent. In the United States, composers are like sailors: a corporation. We had our class with Henry Mancini, Lalo Schifrin, John Williams, André Prévin, and a dozen others. We got together every Wednesday, told the story of the films on which we worked. It is entraidait. I had the same dream one time make a tour with the concerto for three keyboards of Bach, where we would have played together, John, me and André. But Williams did not want to get back to the piano. There was a joy in the crazy. It must be said that working in Hollywood was great. You were given two months to write. Me, I was on the boat for seven weeks and was working the last week. I need this urgently. Especially in cinema, where you have to say in 25 seconds what you would say in 4 minutes.

Why not be stayed there?

I can’t live in the middle of people that you have said it all in a quarter of an hour. There is not enough appetite for the culture.

You would have been more quickly recognized as a classical composer. Do you have the feeling that things are moving in our country?

This disc is proof of that, since I had the chance to record with the philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France, which was very important for me, whose musical legacy going as well by the jazz and by Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and all the French school of Debussy to Ravel. But, at the same time, the Philharmonie de Paris still does not get me. And the Paris Opera, which, however, seen my ballet for John Neumeier and loved it, would not like especially to see my name on his posters.

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do you Have other projects?

Full of it! I am in my 80 roaring. I have to do the re-opening of Marigny with my musical comedy Monte Cristo , which was mounted in 1975, but at the time had been sloppy. I discussed with Jean-Luc Choplin of the new Seine music of the island Seguin. He has a fixed idea in my regard: to adapt the Skin of an ass in musical comedy. I am in the process of writing the music for the upcoming film by Xavier Beauvois, The Guardian . The story of the women who kept the farms during the Great War. I have the crazy dream that this music will serve me the second part for the concerto for orchestra that I am in the process of composing. Finally, with Natalie Dessay, we recorded Between Yesterday and Tomorrow , an oratorio on texts of Bergman (Alan and Marilyn, editor’s NOTE), that I had written for Barbra Straisand. A woman’s life in fifteen songs. This will give rise to a performance at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in 2018, with the first part of my concertos.