A nice surprise from Richard Clayderman
SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil (The Philippine Star) - August 10, 2012 - 12:00am

What a nice surprise I got early this week, an album by the French pianist Richard Clayderman. It was my first Clayderman CD. I just realized that I do not have a single one. Would you believe I have him only on vinyl, LPs I got back in the late ’70s when Clayderman’s recording of Ballade Pour Adeline took the world by storm? And I really mean by storm.

A composition by Paul de Senneville, Ballade Pour Adeline was a big seller in many countries, including the Philippines. I am sure many of you still remember the simple tune and Clayderman’s light touch on the keyboard. It was used as the theme for the long-running and high-rating TV show Lovingly Yours, Helen, that was hosted by the late Helen Vela. To this day, I still hear it occasionally on the radio introducing some melodrama. Recorded in 1976, it went on to sell 22 million copies and made a pop star out of Clayderman.

Newspapers and magazines carried his success story in various languages. He was this kid who had to give up his dream of becoming a classical pianist when his father fell ill. He got a job as a clerk but continued to play as an accompanist. One day, he answered a call to audition for a composer. It was Senneville looking for a pianist to record Adeline. Clayderman, only 22 years old, won the gig and made history.

It helped that he was young and very handsome. I thought then that if the dashing Lochinvar were real, he would look like Clayderman. If he had happened today, kids might say that he looks like the superhero Thor. His looks coupled with an Edwardian wardrobe and romantic piano playing placed him alongside the music idols of the time. Guys claimed they did not like him at all but the girls of all ages and nationalities, swooned.

His popularity was such that Clayderman was believed to have generated a spate of piano lessons worldwide. People wanted to be like Clayderman or to at least be able to play Adeline. He is now also credited for having invented or maybe I should say, being responsible for the creation of “elevator music.”

This is music that is nice to listen to and elicits no strong reaction. It can be played anywhere to create a relaxing ambience. This was heard mostly in offices and building elevators. Clayderman’s music was so popular that his recordings were being played everywhere and his style, pretty but unobtrusive was ideal for elevators and similar places.

Being associated with music that is largely ignored, do you know people who listen to music in elevators? May not be what an artist dreams of but Clayderman parlayed this label into staggering success. I do not know how many albums he has recorded since Adeline, but I know he has done a lot.

These albums are mostly collections of classics, standards and current hits played in his own romantic style. He has done some concertos and sonatas that doubtlessly fulfilled his early dream but Clayderman’s albums are mostly what is called “elevator music.” People love them and he has already sold over 70 million pieces of these CDs.

Judging from the album I got, Clayderman is still at it after over 30 years and he is very good. Our Love is a two-disc set of standards and contemporary classics rendered more romantic as piano melodies. It is a varied lot. Included songs go from oldies like I Only Have Eyes For You, to Elvis, Love Me Tender to light rockers like Wind Beneath My Wings, Sometimes When We Touch, Dust In The Wind and soul ballads like When A Man Loves A Woman and Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You.

With 30 selections, the album makes for over an hour of light music. Great for elevators but I must say also parties, if you prefer stimulating conversation to exciting action. Pop this into the player and you are set for one enjoyable evening. Very nice. Makes me think it would nice to have the Clayderman Christmas album for the upcoming holiday parties.

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