French Kiss - An Australian in Paris @ The Concourse, Chatswood - Janne Seletto
JANE Rutter is a flauntist - she said so herself - and we're
lucky she is.
I saw her this week at Live at Lunch - the first concert in Chatswood's classy new lunchtime series.
The performance was a journey - Jane's journey as an Aussie teenager to Paris - the City of Light; the City of Sensuality; the City of Picasso, Ernest Hemmingway and Gertrude Stein and the City of the greatest flute teacher on the planet.
Jane takes a while to find him. Along the way she immerses herself in Paris - her present-day beauty and her glorious past. We go along for the ride.
We start in Australia. When Jane finishes school, her flute teacher tells her she's good enough to study in Paris. Her mother wants her to stay in Sydney and become a scientist but Jane is "a gypsy spawn." "My heart belongs to drum beats and pan flutes," she says. "I want my music to lull the children, sing in the trees, scatter the sands, break down walls." Of course she goes to Paris.
But she doesn't just study the flute. Jane learns to "live expansively, with passion and abandon - like Edith Piaf, the Little Sparrow of Paris." The piano has already started playing in the background and Jane takes up the tune. It's Piaf's haunting melody - La Vie en Rose. It is achingly beautiful.
So Jane is in Paris - "the most romantic city in the world" - and the autumn leaves are falling. It's not easy finding a flute teacher, but that doesn't really matter. Jane plunges into Paris' past - this is where Hemmingway Gertrude Stein and French author Colette lived and worked. It's where can-can girls high-kicked at the Moulin Rouge and Josephine Baker danced wearing nothing but feathers.
Jane throws on a red feather boa, sashays across the stage and gives us Josephine - the dancer who showed Paris that black is beautiful. Jane fondles her flute and eases into the Gershwin classic - It Ain't Necessarily So. She plays it dirty. The music growls and purrs and I think of smoky rooms
and couples dancing after midnight. Who knew a flute could do that?
Back to the Moulin Rouge and the can can is playing. "Do the can can girls have frills on their knickers." says Jane. "That's what people on the Paris streets were talking about. But then people started asking: 'Do the can can girls wear knickers at all?" She twirls her skirt and plays Offenbach's can-can - the Galop Infernal. It's powerful and passionate and played at breakneck speed. The audience claps along - we hardly needed to be asked.
Jane finds her flute teacher. Of course she does. He was Alain Marion - one of the top flute players of his time. Jane describes him as the greatest teacher in the world and the reincarnation of the Greek flute god Pan.
And the flauntist? That's from Jane's encounter with Zsa Zsa Gabor. Jane was backing the legendary Hungarian in a stage show and saw her backstage. "Are you the Hungarian girl?" asked the actress. "No," said Jane. "I'm playing the flute." "Ah! You are the flauntist!" Ms Gabor said. How did she know?
Jane performed for about an hour, ably accompanied by painist Cho Ki Wong on the Steinway grand. She played Ravel's Bolero, Joncieres' Hungarian Serenade and many more. The audience loved them all.
French Kiss was the first in a series of concerts curated by Jane for Chatswood. They're on once a month at The Concourse Concert Hall.
Next up is piano virtuoso Simon Tedeschi performing Gershwin and Me - an exuberant take on Gershwin's timeless tunes.
Live at Lunch details available here.