“You’d sing too, if you found yourself in a place like this …”

About ten friends decided to join me and attend another literary salon at the small Branoul theatre. Though not all these recitals are in English, Leonard Cohen’s poetry was of course not read in translation.

At first, I hadn’t been that enthusiastic. I’m no great fan of modern or contemporary poetry. I only knew a few of Leonard Cohan’s world-famous songs, like “Suzanne”.

On the other hand, I’ve grown fond of these literary events and especially of the NEUE. So our bunch met under the porch with me still kind of moping and not sure, this event would go down well with the group. A few arrived early, a few late – so we managed to spread out over three different rows in this intimate theatre.

Of course, I’d worried for naught. In fact, a few of us were so bowled over, they couldn’t thank Branoul staff enough. I have to admit that this evening was quite an impressive mix of excellent poems and music.

The selected music kind of mirrored phases in Leonard Cohen’s life. What worked extremely well, or at least according to us, was the excellent guitar performance by mr Kellerman in combination with the violin players ms Ovcharova and mr Stam of the NEUE. I especially loved the Danza Ritual del Fuego. Others preferred the Mozart Adagio from KV423. A few voted Toru Takemitsu’s “The International” the most unusual and impressive musical piece of this evening.

As for the selected Leonard Cohen poems, recited by Graham Flett … At times, the complete audience was sniggering, or laughing. Then there were moving and very touching moments. It was difficult to decide which poem was the best piece and best rendered.

A friend I met at the theatre, who got to know these recitals through an earlier visit I had organised, had taken along colleagues. After the event, our groups mixed and mingled. She mentioned she’d noticed a book of poems by Leonard Cohen lying somewhere on a table.

But as the corridor is small and people were having a drink, while discussing the evening’s performance, I decided any book could wait. This recital had completely won me over and I was interested in reading more poems by Leonard Cohen, but I could check the web later for anthologies.

Of the recited poems, a few can be found on the UK Telegraph website. The complete list of this evening:
Thousands
Titles
The Party was over then too
The Flow
Equinox
If you knew
SOS
Who do you really remember
Better
First of all
Disturbed this morning
How could I have doubted
On the path
A life of errands
Report to R.S.B.
His Master’s Voice
Clockwork
You’d sing too
Duskos Taverna 1967
The moon
Looking through my dreams

The NEUE had selected Maurice Ravel’s Sonatine and Kaddish, Toru Takemitsu’s The International and Equinox, Manuel da Falla’s Danza Ritual del Fuego and Cancion, Joseph Achron’s Improvisation opus 65, Mozart’s Adagio from KV 423 to accompany this recital.

Youtube Ravel’s Kaddish
Official Leonard Cohen site
Leonard Cohen Poems – anthology, Leonard Cohen, Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets is available through Amazon.

The next English Salon Branoul will focus on Allen Ginsberg. For the Salon Branoul planned performances, info, tickets: NEUE website.

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