China (Jean Michel Jarre – Souvenir of China)

The Concerts in China

The Concerts in China

The Concerts in China (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Live album by Jean Michel Jarre
Released 1982
Recorded October 1981
Genre Electronicambientworld
Length 79:03
Label Disques Dreyfus
Producer Jean Michel Jarre
Jean Michel Jarre chronology
Magnetic Fields
The Concerts in China
Music for Supermarkets

Jean Michel André Jarre (born 24 August 1948 in Lyon) is a French composerperformer and music producer. He is a pioneer in the electronicambient and New Age genres, and known as an organiser of outdoor spectacles of his music featuring lights, laser displays, and fireworks.  His first mainstream success was the 1976 album Oxygène. Recorded in a makeshift studio at his home, the album sold an estimated 12 million copies.  Oxygène was followed in 1978 by Équinoxe, and in 1979 Jarre performed to a record-breaking audience of more than a million people at the Place de la Concorde, a record he has since broken three times. More albums were to follow, but his 1979 concert served as a blueprint for his future performances around the world. Several of his albums have been released to coincide with large-scale outdoor events, and he is now perhaps as well known as a performer as a musician.
Jarre was raised in Lyon by his mother and grandparents, and trained on the piano. From an early age he was introduced to a variety of art forms, including those of street performers, jazz musicians, and the artist Pierre Soulages. He played guitar in a band, but his musical style was perhaps most heavily influenced by Pierre Schaeffer, a pioneer of musique concrète at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales.

As of 2004 Jarre had sold an estimated 80 million albums. He was the first Western musician to be allowed to perform in the People’s Republic of China, and holds the world record for the largest-ever audience at an outdoor event.

1985 Jarre was invited by the musical director of the Houston Grand Opera to perform a concert celebrating Texas‘s 150th anniversary. Although he was busy with other projects and was at first unimpressed by the proposal, on a later visit to the city he was immediately impressed by the visual grandeur of the city’s skyline, and agreed to perform. 1985 also marked the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, and Jarre was contacted by NASA to integrate the anniversary into the concert.

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Third Rendez-Vous, normally performed in concert on the laser harp

Rendez-Vous was created over a period of about two months, and as with Zoolook, contains elements of his 1983 album Musique pour Supermarché.  Its three movements represent Houston’s development, from a rural economy, to its role as a leader in space technology. Baroque in style, the album uses a mixture of French horns, trombones and violins, and features heavy use of the Elka Synthex, notably so on “Third Rendez-Vous”, a track Jarre often performs using a laser harp.  Jarre worked with several Houston-based astronauts including Bruce McCandless II, and former Jazz musician Ronald McNair, who was to have played the saxophone on “Rendez-Vous VI”, recorded in the weightless environment of space. McNair’s planned live performance was curtailed by the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on 28 January 1986. Consideration was given to the cancellation of the concert, but Jarre was contacted by McCandless and urged to proceed, in memory of the shuttle’s crew. McNair’s saxophone piece was recorded by Kirk Whalum and retitled “Ron’s Piece”.

Jarre playing the laser harp inHelsinki

Disc one

  1. “The Overture” – 4:47
  2. “Arpegiator” – 6:54
  3. “Equinoxe IV” – 7:49
  4. “Fishing Junks at Sunset” – 9:38
  5. “Band in the Rain” – 1:29
  6. “Equinoxe VII” – 9:55

Disc two

  1. “Orient Express” – 4:22
  2. “Magnetic Fields I” – 0:21
  3. “Magnetic Fields III” – 3:49
  4. “Magnetic Fields IV” – 6:49
  5. “Laser Harp” – 3:37
  6. “Night in Shanghai” – 7:02
  7. “The Last Rumba” – 2:11
  8. “Magnetic Fields II” – 6:26
  9. “Souvenir of China” – 3:54

Mention should be made of a rare third album in this series, which contains 6 previously unreleased tracks from the first concert in Beijing. While not officially released, it is widely available as a bootleg among various Jarre fansites across the internet.

  1. “Oxygène I” – 6:58
  2. “Oxygène II” – 8:28
  3. “Equinoxe VIII” – 5:28
  4. “Fishing Junks at Sunset” – 18:00
  5. “Magnetic Fields I” – 6:31
  6. “Magnetic Fields II” – 5:29


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An excerpt from Arpegiator, highlighting the use of the Fairlight CMI

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The Concerts in China

The Concerts in China (French title: Les Concerts en Chine) is a live album by Jean Michel Jarre, recorded in 1981 and released in 1982 on Disques Dreyfus. It was recorded during Jarre’s Concerts in China tour of Autumn 1981, which consisted of five Peking and Shanghai concerts in China; this was the first time a Western pop artist performed in China after the Cultural Revolution.

The album is a balance of previously released tracks by Jarre, new compositions inspired by Chinese culture, and one rearranged traditional Chinese track (“Fishing Junks at Sunset”). The music is combined live and studio work, plus ambient sound recordings. The most live tracks are the Equinoxe and Magnetic Fields sets. New compositions include “Night in Shanghai”, “Laser Harp”, “Arpegiator”, “Orient Express” and “Souvenir of China”. “Fishing Junks at Sunset” is a new arrangement of a very old traditional Chinese song known as the “Fisherman’s Chant at Dusk” which was performed and recorded with The Peking Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra, and is often wrongly attributed as being composed by Jean Michel Jarre, misled by the album inlay.

The album was originally released as a double-disc LP, then as a double-disc CD. There was also a CD release in two separate volumes, with the cover color changed to blue (Vol. 1) and yellow (Vol. 2). In 1997, a one-disc remastered CD was released, made possible by an extended running time of 78:17 minutes and by reducing the gaps and audience noise between tracks.

One of the album’s original tracks – “Arpegiator” – was used in the soundtrack of the cult film 9½ Weeks.

The Concerts in China’s opening track “The Overture” is in fact the first movement of “Magnetic Fields Part 1” slowed down.

The album reached #6 in the UK charts and #1 in Portugal.

Studio albums
Live albums
LP – 7″ single only
Compilation albums
Remixes by other artists
Related articles

Large concerts

Date Audience Place Event Note
July 14, 1979 1 million Place de la Concorde, FRA celebrating the Bastille Day 1st entry in the Guinness Book Of Records for largest outdoor concert crowd.[2][87]
April 5, 1986 1.5 million Houston, USA celebration of the 150th anniversary of Texas and Houston 2nd entry in the Guinness Book Of Records. [2][27][88]
October 5, 1986 0.8 million Lyon, FRA The visit of Pope John Paul II to Jarre’s hometown of Lyon was celebrated by this event. /
October 8, 9th 1988 0.2 million (official) 1 million (unofficial) London, GBR Large outdoor concert titled “Destination Docklands” performed in London’s docklands, noted for its planning difficulties and poor weather. /
July 14, 1990 2.5 million Paris la Defense, FRA celebration of the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution 3rd entry in the Guinness Book Of Records. [2][89][90]
July 14, 1995 1.25 million Eiffel Tower, FRA UNESCO‘s 50th birthday and UNESCO’S proclaimed year of tolerance /
September 6, 1997 3.5 million Moscow, RUS Jarre was invited for a concert celebrating the 850th birthday of Moscow 4th entry in the Guinness Book Of Records (equaled with R. Stewart’s 1994 Copacabana concert).
July 14, 1998 0.6 million Eiffel Tower, FRA Bastille Day /

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