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December 2 , 2010

Godard at 80

Many happy returns to Jean-Luc Godard, uncompromising artistic spirit and filmmaker extraordinaire, 80 years old on December 3. Numerous portraits of JLG are currently appearing in the world’s press, acknowledging his achievement as the great innovator and theoretician of European cinema, still controversial after all these years.

ECM has been pleased to present some of Godard’s work in the last two decades, starting with the double-album soundtrack of the 1990 film “Nouvelle Vague”. This was followed by the soundtrack of “Histoire(s) du cinema” as a box set of five CDs and four books, and subsequently by the “Four Short Films” DVD collection with “The Old Place”, “De l’origine de XXIe siècle”, “Liberté et patrie” and “Je vous salue, Sarajevo”. All of these films incorporate music from ECM. In the “Four Short Films” set, for instance, there are excerpts from ECM recordings of Arvo Pärt, György Kurtág, Hans Otte, Federico Mompou, Tomasz Stanko, Dino Saluzzi, Keith Jarrett, Ketil Bjørnstad, David Darling and more.

The collaboration between JLG and ECM producer Manfred Eicher is ongoing. Godard: “I had the feeling, the way he was producing sound, that we were more or less in the same country: he with sounds, me with images”. Amongst other Godard films incorporating ECM music include “Allemagne Neuf Zéro”, “Hélas pour moi”, “JLG/JLG – Autoportrait de décembre”, “For Ever Mozart”, “Eloge de l’amour”, “Notre Musique” and “Film Socialisme”.

Images from Godard films have been used as cover art for numerous, and very different, ECM discs. Amongst them: Berio’s “Voci”, “Asturiana” by Kim Kashkashian and Robert Levin, Tomasz Stanko’s “Soul of Things” and “Suspended Night”, Norma Winstone’s “Distances”, “Morimur” by Christoph Poppen and the Hilliard Ensemble, Juliane Banse and Andràs Schiff’s “Songs of Debussy and Mozart”, Silvestrov’s “Requiem for Larissa”. Geoff Andrew discusses the relationship between Godard and ECM in the chapter “Leur musique – Eicher/Godard – Sound/Image” in the survey of the label’s cover art, “Windfall Light”.