Jean-Michel Jarre – The Concerts In China (1982)

FrontCover1Jean-Michel André Jarre (born 24 August 1948) is a French composer, performer and record producer. He is a pioneer in the electronic, ambient and new-age genres, and is known for organising outdoor spectacles featuring his music, vast laser displays, large projections and fireworks.

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 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.

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 he is as a musician.

As of 2004, Jarre had sold an estimated 80 million albums. He was the first Western musician officially invited to perform in the People’s Republic of China and holds the world record for the largest-ever audience at an outdoor event for his Moscow concert on 6 September 1997, which was attended by 3.5 million people.


Les Concerts en Chine (English title: The Concerts in China) 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 Beijing 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 (“Jonques de pêcheurs au crépuscule”). The album consists mainly of live material, plus ambient sound recordings and one new studio track “Souvenir of China”. Other new compositions recorded live include “Nuit à Shanghai”, “Harpe Laser”, “Arpégiateur” and “Orient Express”. “Jonques de pêcheurs au crépuscule” (“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 reducing the total running time to 78:17 by reducing the gaps and audience noise between tracks. The remastering was done by Scott Hull at Masterdisk to the 96 kHz, 24 bit standard.

One of the album’s original tracks – “Arpégiateur” – was used in the soundtrack of the film 9½ Weeks as well as in several mid-1980s episodes of the American soap opera Santa Barbara. Opening track “The Overture” is the first movement of “Magnetic Fields Part 1” slowed down.

The album reached #6 in the UK charts #1 in Portugal and #76 in Australia. (wikipedia)


Jean-Michel Jarre performed a handful of concerts in Peking and Shanghai in 1981, marking the first time that a modern Western musical artist had played in communist China. Sensing the historical importance of the event (and the career milestone it represented), a double album of live music from these concerts was released the following year as Les Concerts en Chine. The release is half musical travelogue (featuring new pieces presumably inspired by China) and half career retrospective, with faithful reproductions of excerpts from Equinoxe and Les Chants Magnetiques (Magnetic Fields) interspersed with new works and snippets of Chinese dialogue. There has always been a strong visual component to Jarre’s live shows, which the listener is left out of on these recordings (small pockets of applause during some of the songs allude to the graphic goings-on), but even without the lights and lasers this is engaging stuff. Highlights from the show include “Jonques de Pecheurs au Crepuscule” (Fishing Junks at Sunset), a welcome respite from Jarre’s ultra-modern music that features a traditional Oriental arrangement, and new works like “Arpegiateur” and “Nuit a Shangai” that compare favorably with the brisk, streamlined sound of Tangerine Dream in the early ‘80s.


Connecting these sections with dialogue and street noises (some of which, in the case of “Les Chants Magnetiques,” have always been there) breaks up the concert nicely, although two lighthearted intermissions (“L’Orchestre Sous la Pluie” and “La Derniere Rumba”) make too fine a point of it. Owners of Equinoxe and Les Chants Magnetiques expecting to hear a new interpretation of these albums won’t find any surprises on Les Concerts en Chine except a short ping-pong match inexplicably billed as “Les Chants Magnetiques I.” The real attraction is the new music, and the newness that all of this must have held for its audience. [Regrettably, when Dreyfus reissued the concert on compact disc in 1992, it opted to split the original double LP into two separate discs as Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.] (by Dave Connolly)


Jean-Michel Jarre (synthesizer)
Dominique Perrier (synthesizer)
Roger Rizzitelli (electronic drums &  percussion)
Frederick Rousseau (synthesizer)
Peking Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra conducted by Huang Feili
– orchestra conductor on “Fishing Junks at Sunset”
Mrs. Li Meng, Mr. Wang Zhi – collaborating artists (possibly playing guzhengs) on “Fishing Junks at Sunset”

01. Introduction / The Overture) 4.50
02. Arpegiator / Equinoxe 4 14.38
03. Fishing Junks At Sunset 9.37
04. Band In The Rain / Equinoxe 7 11.12
05. Orient Express 4.15
06. Magnetic Fields 1 – 3 – 4 11.00
07. Laser Harp 3.31
08. Night in Shanghai 7.04
09. The Last Rhumba 2.02
10. Magnetic Fields 2 5.27
11. Souvenir Of China 3.55
12. The Concerts In China (uncut edition) 1.19.09

Music composed by Jean-Michel Jarre




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