I purchased this boxed set because it offered ten CD's at a bargain price and I wanted to increase my collection of Ms. Piaf. I have been on a Piaf "kick" lately. Although I've been listening to her records on and off for years, I recently screened the biographical film La Vie en Rose for the fifth or sixth time, and have been playing Ms. Piaf's records, and acquiring a few new ones, non-stop ever since.
With the boxed set Adieu Mon Coeur, there is good news and there is bad.
First, the bad. Although the boxed set did include the promised ten CD's, they averaged about 12 songs each, none of the CD's run more than 40 minutes or so. Therefore, given the capacity of the standard CD, they could have easily squeezed twice as many tracks onto each CD and cut the box set down to five or six CD's. Also the boxed set contains absolutely no information on the various tracks, such as recording dates, orchestra information and whether or not each track is a live or studio recording. None of this standard data is divulged to the listener, making the average American English-only fan even more confused than usual. The inner cardboard sleeves do include the name of the composer, the track time and, in applicable cases, a notation (in French) if Ms. Piaf sings in English (as she does on one or two tracks) or the name of her co-performer in the few cases where she sings a duet. The high-gloss box contains ten cardboard CD inner sleeves, each bearing the same photo of Miss Piaf taken sometime in the late 1950's. Each inner sleeve also bears the number of its individual CD, with the name of the first track to appear on that CD. Unfortunately, the CD sleeves are rather stiff and a bit too small, making the CD's difficult to remove without handling the disc.
Now for the good news - simply put, it's the music. The ten CD's contain mostly studio tracks recorded (as near as I can tell) in the late 1940's to mid-1950's; a few are older and some sound closer to her death in 1963. With the exception of a few of the older tracks, the sound is excellent. The tracks do not seem to be presented in any particular order. Some CD's start with tracks that sound to have been recorded in the later stage of Piaf's career, followed by much earlier recordings from the 1940's or even 1930's. The orchestrations are by and large wonderful; there are a many songs that I knew through Ms. Piaf's late live recordings that are presented here in studio recordings with full orchestra. The result is most enjoyable. Some of the well-known songs presented here include C'etait une histoirie d'amour, La fete continue, Mon legionnairre, Le petit homme, Heureuse, La vie en rose (two versions, one in French and one in English), Les momes de la cloche, Bravo pour le clown, Padam padam, Monsieur Saint Pierre, L'homme a la moto, Entre Saint Ouen et Cignancourt, Dans les prisons de Nantes, L'Hymne a l'amour, Le roi a fait battre tambour, La goualante du pauvre Jean, C'est a hambourg, L'accordeoniste, Je t'ai dans la peau, Je n'en connais pas la fin and Les trois cloches. Those are just the titles that I recognized. Upon listening, I found there were many more that sounded familiar or even songs I knew well but did not know the title. The box cover says there are "more than 100 selected original tracks". The actual total for the ten CD's is 126 tracks.
Many of Piaf's best-known songs (to American fans) are not represented here; Non, je ne regrette rien, Milord, Mon manege a moi and La foule, along with several others, are missing. But why quibble? This set was notable for the number of songs I did not know previously that I enjoyed immensely, including the title song, Adieu mon Coeur, which was absolutely lovely.
On the whole I was very pleased with this set. I debated throughout the time it took me to write this review whether to give it five stars. In the end, I am detracting one for the lack of track information provided in the set; recording dates alone would have made a great difference to me. But the music deserves five stars, easily.