Fête de la musique

Paris is sweltering with music. Strolling — not quite flâneur-ing — I hear trumpets blaring, guitars humming, and singers crooning. It’s a hotbed of music, which passersby seem to really enjoy.


These outdoor performances are a part of Paris’s rendition of Fête de la musique, an international day of music-making. For my part, I chose the coolness of The Great Indoors, more specifically, the Musée d’Orsay. Here, the Orchestre d’harmonie de la Garde républicaine performed several arrangements and one concertino for trombone.


Despite the plethora of arrangements, the program writers didn’t give any credit to their creators. First time listeners could have been under the mistaken impression that Ravel’s Bolero and de Falla’s Three Cornered Hat were written for wind band. Most of these transcriptions were sadly swallowed up by the cavernous hall, a former railroad station. A lot of the choices felt corny too, especially the staccatoed saxophones standing in for pizzicatoed violins.


I was really looking forward to the new piece on the program, Tbon and Jacques, concertino pour trombone et orchestre à vents (2017). Ferrer Ferran wrote this expressly for tonight’s soloist, Jacques Mauger. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by it. There was a great deal of “boom, chick, chick” which I thought went — mercifully — out of fashion many years ago. Mauger performed admirably considering the location difficulty.


The audience really liked Bolero, though. It was admittedly the only arrangement that still sounded OK in the space. It fluttered about, stretching through the station’s airy ceilings. It was an imaginative moment, a good conclusion for the program.


As I write this at 11:17 PM Paris time, the bands continue to play, the crowds continue to throng. I may not get much sleep tonight, but I am glad to see — and more importantly, hear — a city’s support for music.