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April in Paris? Not quite yet, but listening to French music is a great way to get in the mood. And you needn’t be a Francophone — or anywhere near Paris — to enjoy classical chansonniers. Here are a few favorites currently available on CD: “ The Voice of the Sparrow, The Very Best of Edith PiafCapitol Records, 1991 For the epitome of Parisian music, turn to Edith Piaf, aka “the Sparrow.” Piaf started performing when she was just a teenager in the early 1930s; she died in 1963 at the age of 47. Eighteen of Piaf’s chansons, including “La Vie en Rose,” “Mon Dieu,” and “Hymne A L’Amour” are packed on to this greatest hits recording. “Aznavour 2000″ EMI Music France, 2000 The 76-year-old Charles Aznavour has composed more than 600 songs and sold more than 100 million records over the past six decades. “Aznavour 2000,” his latest effort, contains 14 recordings that range from jazzy, Sinatra-esque tunes to a kind of pan-European gypsy music. This album is a perfect companion to Piaf’s, since the two cabaret singers once toured together and even lived together, though they were never lovers. Indeed, Aznavour has said he learned everything he needed to know in his profession from Piaf. “Maurice Chevalier, Ma Pomme, Chansons 1935-1946″ HNH International Ltd., 2000 No tour of French music would be complete without Maurice Chevalier. Like Piaf, the debonair entertainer, songwriter, and actor — born in 1888 — started performing when he was just a teenager. During the 1920s Chevalier was a leading name in cabaret, and in later decades he starred in numerous movies, including “Ma Pomme” (1950, reviving his 1930s theme song), “Gigi” (1958), and “Can-Can” (1959). He continued to perform until a few years before his death in 1972. Along with “Ma Pomme,” this album includes “La Chanson Populaire,” “Bonsoir, Messieurs et Dames,” and “1-2-3-4.” “Brel” Barclay, France, 1977 The legendary Belgian-born singer, actor, and director Jacques Brel doesn’t sing especially uplifting tunes on this or any recording. Brel, released in 1977 after several years of silence and two years before his death, was his last album. It includes songs that are representative of themes present in most of his work, including friendship, generosity, love, and death. His intense style has been said to send shivers down fans’ spines. So who cares if he’s singing the ultra-blues? If you don’t speak French, maybe you won’t even notice.

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