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Mona Lisa

Symphonic Prog

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Mona Lisa Le Petit Violon De Mr. Grégoire album cover
3.65 | 86 ratings | 18 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Le Chant Des Glaces (4:30)
2. Allons Z'enfants (6:15)
3. Le Publiphobe (2:27)
4. Solaris (2:50)
5. Le Petit Violin De Mr. Grégoire:
- a) La Folie (5:36)
- b) De Toute Ma Haine (5:56)
- c) Plus Loin Vers Le Ciel (9:00)

Total time 36:34

Bonus track on 1989 CD release:
6. La Machine A Theatre (5:25)

Line-up / Musicians

- Dominique Le Guennec / lead vocals, flute, synth
- Pascal Jardon / electric & acoustic guitars
- Jean-Paul Pierson / piano, organ, synth
- Jean-Luc Martin / bass, vocals
- Francis Poulet / drums, percussions, vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Philippe Huart

LP Crypto - ZAC 6402 (1976, France)

CD Musea - FGBG 4009.AR (1989, France) With a bonus track

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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MONA LISA Le Petit Violon De Mr. Grégoire ratings distribution

(86 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

MONA LISA Le Petit Violon De Mr. Grégoire reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars 2.5 stars at most!!

Third album from this quintet from the heart of France (Orleans), a difficult birth, delayed by offshoot projects and defections. Grimages had been well-received by the press, and the group also played a special project, providing the live music to the spoken text of Johnathan The Seagull for a couple of performances and a few more theatre plays, the group also toured with Pulsart, Ange, Carpe Diem, Atoll, Tangerine and even Magma (!) for two nights. During the rehearsal and writing of Violon in the winter of 76, the group separated after an argument, only to reform later that spring, but with a different guitarist Pascal Jardon. The album finally came out late 76 with a typical fantasy artwork and is regarded by fans as their crowning achievement. LeGuennec is often seen with an old man masque (a bit like P Gabriel's did back in 72) and also plays the flute (like peter did). Did anyone say "derivative" or "clone"?

Opening on a short Chants Des Glaces, an instrumental that features the band's overall musicianship, somewhere between Genesis and Ange, something that can be said for the closing Solaris as well. Both evolved out of the Johnathan Livingstone project. Following up is Enfants, an enthralling piece starting on gentle vocals, but once the group kicks in, we have a solid riff-laden rock, before the middle section changing things again, before returning to the heavy riffy rock already developed. Publiphobe is probably the most out of place track of this album, as it cites many brand-names in their lyrics to prove their phobia of advertisements: a fun idea, but one that doesn't really hold up repeated listenings without a bit of irritation.

The sidelong suite filling the flipside is obviously the cornerstone on which the album was built, but this proghead is not really impressed as ML pulls a second-league Ange. Two of the three movements were written a while ago, and all three sounds just glued together with sound effects. This suite is just too close to Fils De Mandrin or Emile Jacotey for comfort, IMHO. The instrumental finale is rather weak, as well.

If you're into theatrical music, ML might even be more so than Ange, often attracting unfavourable comparisons, probably due to their cheesy spoken parts and sometimes laughably trying too hard to fit the mould. Definitely not my cup of tea.

Review by loserboy
4 stars Rich in the French prog tradition the music of MONA LISA is emotionally dramatic with great emphasis on the theatric impact of this concept album. "Le Petit Violon De Mr Grégorie" parallels the dramatic symphonic tendencies exhibited in parent french prog band ANGE in which one can draw many parallels. Lead Singer here sounds to my ears as a cross of ANGE's Christian Decamps and portions of Peter GABRIEL. One of my favourite French prog tracks of all time is "Allons Z'enfants" which blends all the right elements for me.. dramatic lyrics, great melody, excellent musicianship and poignant atmospheres. The fine folks at Musea have done a great job in re-packaging this magnificent piece of prog history with some great liner notes and photo's. Musically MONA LISA's compositions are dramatic and complex with some lovely melodies and musical moments. Guitars and bass are standout instruments here with some truly unmistakable originality in compositions throughout. Without a question "Le Petit Violon De Mr Grégoire" would rank as one of my personal all time fav French prog albums and is considered by this music lover as a masterpiece.

Review by Steve Hegede
5 stars MONA LISA are very similar to ANGE, in that they play in the French-theatrical style. But, these guys seemed to have no intentions of just ripping-off ANGE, so their sound comes off as original. In my opinion, the singer is much harder to digest than Christian Decamps of ANGE. He tends to get overly emotional, and over-acts as he goes from one character to the other (like Peter GABRIEL). MONA LISA's guitarist really stands out as someone with a unique sense for melody. Overall, if you like symphonic prog then you really can't go wrong with "Le Petit Violon De Mr Gregiore".

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Graduate with honours from the school of Ange-inspired French symphonic prog, Mona Lisa showed the world that they could surpass their masters in terms of both musicianship and musical inventiveness when they released their 3rd album "Le Petit Violon de Mr. Gregoire". Having recovered form a brief break-up period, all original members of the quintet except for guitarist Christian Gallas rejoined forces: newcomer Pascal Jardon, as a guitarist, managed to instill some fresh air and an increased sense of energy into the band's prototypical sound - in fact, I think that his work here is so inventive that it is no wonder that the ensemble feels so enthusiastic all throughout the new album's repertoire. Martin's arsenal is expanded in order to include more synth into the fold (singer/flautist LeGuennec plays some occasional synth, too), and indeed it proves quite effective when it comes to creating strong orchestrations, eerie textures, some solos which complement those performed by Jardon, and even some rhythmic ornaments that lay a bridge between Jardon's riffs and the drum/bass section. Speaking of which, Poulet and Martin interact tightly and cohesively. Last, but not least. Mr. Dominique LeGuennec plays his role as singer, master of ceremonies, story teller, grand court jester, poet, all along his singing lines, with incredible charisma and extravagant finesse. It seems like I've pretty much focused on describing the overall aspects of the performances. Now I'll say a few words about the repertoire itself. The opening instrumental 'Le Chant des Glaces' and the next one, track no. 4 'Solaris', show the band's ability to create effective melodies as writers and interact fluidly as instrumentalists - these two numbers were originally included in a brief multimedia show created by Mona Lisa one year earlier, inspired by the novella "Jonathan Livingstone, Seagull". The first sung number is 'Allons Z'enfants', which signals Jardon's debut as a music writer for Mona Lisa - a powerful, dramatic track, indeed, a perfect example of LeGuennec's charisma and performing skills. The following track, 'Le Publiphobe' is basically a soliloquy delivered by LeGuennec over solemn organ layers (somewhat similar to the closing section of PF's 'Saucerful of Secrets'), an appropriate moment of conscious reflectiveness before the explosion of joy conveyed in 'Solaris'. This brief instrumental bears a catchy set of tunes ordained in a merry fashion: the guitar leads are just gorgeous, properly complemented by the remaining instruments. Tracks 5-8 are but the four parts of the namesake suite, all of them written by Martin and LeGuennec. 'La Folie' and 'De Tout ma Haine' are mainly effective rockers with a moderate dose of complexity and plenty of fire. The fire is less intense, but the complexity is a bit more developed in part 3, 'Plus Loin vers le Ciel': the sing-along choruses bring an air of celebration among the overall density of this track. Finally, 'La Machine a Theatre', the instrumental closure that ends both the suite and the album, conveys an ethereal ambience of mystery and languid melancholy, beautiful, and very captivating. All in all, this as an excellent recording, a definitive highlight in the history of French prog rock - 4 stars, even 4 ½!
Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Perhaps a tad dated by today's perfect standards, this band remains a stalwart example of the classic Gallic prog school , certainly kinfolk with Ange, Atoll, Pentacle and Pulsar. Knowledge of the language certainly helps in elevating the appreciation of these heavily Genesis influenced bands . Lyrically, our French friends have a long literary history that equals or even outdoes many other cultures. Hence, its only normal that the words and the vehicle to express them plays a major role. To english only ears , the overall impression is perhaps histrionic and overblown but "vive la difference"! Dripping in dense symphonics , the dramatic compositions are elevated by Dominique LeGuennec's vocal gymnastics , a spellbinding storyteller to boot, with lovely childlike fables wrapped in highly philosophical innuendo. Early Genesis had a huge impact in Italy, France and in Quebec simply because of a deeply ingrained cultural fascination for epic stories laced with imagery and fantasy. Though the next album "Avant Qu'il ne Soit Trop tard" is the real jewel in their discography, this recording remains a classic by virtue of the 20 minute title suite, an unusually evocative symphonic romp that is sure to please fans of the above mentioned groups. Outdated, so what? We still enjoy Mozart, Bach and the Beatles, no? ....Not essential like "Au Dela du Delire" , "Musiciens-Magiciens", "Pollen" or "La Clef des Songes" but a trusted addition to any collection. 4 da vincis
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars What a pleasant surprise this album has been. I really wasn't expecting a lot with this album after reading about the theatrical French singing and the strong ANGE vibe. I do like ANGE a lot but I was expecting a pale imitation. Boy was I ever off base. This is amazing ! They may have been inspired by ANGE but these guys have created something all their own.

"Le Chant Des Glaces" opens with 1 1/2 minutes of instrumental music that is impessive. It gets better. It settles with synths and drums before kicking back in. Check out the guitar and bass ! It settles again after 4 minutes to end it. Great tune. "Allons Z'enfants" is mellow with reserved vocals. It sounds so good when it kicks in after a minute.The vocals are passionate here. It settles again with vocals 2 1/2 minutes in. Themes are repeated. Just a fantastic song. "Le Publiphobe" is a short piece with floating organ and spoken words. "Solaris" has a heavy into then the keyboards and drums take over. The guitar and bass that follow are excellent. Back to the keyboards and drums to end it. Nice.

The title track is divided into three parts. "La Folie" opens with spoken words as the music comes in and builds. It turns uptempo with vocals after a minute. Synths also join in. Thmes are repeated. "De Toute Ma Haine" is fairly heavy with synths and drums. Guitar after a minute. The vocals come in when it settles. What's so cool here is that they sound like an RPI band. It's so moving after 3 minutes. Perhaps my favourite track. "Plus Loin Vers Le Ciel" opens with what sounds like the wind blowing and synths as the piano joins in. A beat follows then the vocals arrive. Flute too. The music sounds so good after 5 minutes. "La Machine A Theatre" opens with flute before synths and a beat take over. Flute returns later.

There's way too much incredible music here to give this anything less than 4 stars. Four of these tracks are amazing.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars 1977 was not precisely the year of prog any longer. Still, this French band released one interesting album. Lots of comparisons with "Ange" have been made (accordingly) but in these remote days, "Ange" had already been released all of their legendary albums (up to "Jacotey") after declining.

"MonaLisa" is still on the upside at the time and even if this album is not a masterpiece, it deserves your attention. It is a mix of symphonic prog, theatrical music, even hard rock at times. The whole is nicely produced, well put together and attractive ("Allons Z'Enfants").

The lead vocalist Dominique Le Guennec has a clear timber which allows to easily distinguishing the content of his stories. I don't share the feeling that he is doing too much here: just enough to be a good narrator and a convinced singer (OK, maybe at times?).

The pièce de résistance is the long suite and title track. Fine development all the way through, it is a joyful piece of music by all means. The band is talented and a special note should be dedicated to the excellent guitar work. The inevitable comparison with "Ange" is the most accurate. But in terms of content, the lyrics are not so harsh.

There are a lot of rhythm changes, some nice flute intervention and all in all the music is enjoyable. It has to be considered though more as a succession of songs than a truly epic IMHHO. On the musical edge, there are hardly common parts.

"Le Petit Violon?" is a good album. Three stars I rate.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Mona Lisa is a french band that I had never heard of before finding this CD on an imported records store. Only recently I found out it was on PA. According to the other reviewers here they have a sound that is close to Ange, but since I really don´t know anything about that outfit, I´ll have to judge this one by just what I hear. And I liked what I heard a lot.

To me this group has some similarities to Genesis on the instrumental parts, althiugh the guitar here has more bite. Very well recorded and well performed. Vocals are all in french, sometimes sung, sometimes spoken, all in the traditional way of France´s popular music. Some people say singer Dominique Le Guennec has some Peter Gabriel´s ressemblance, but I see none of it here (maybe live with the masks and things like that?). He has an interesting voice that make me wish I knew some french to understand the lyrics. They sound interesting.

However, the music here is quite rich and pleasant. The songs are all good and quite symphonic. The musicians are great, specially newcomer guitarrist Pascal Jordan, who is very talented and creative. His solos are beautiful! the album is quite varied: it combines quite well the french tradtion with the english rock influences. Some people will have trouble handling all the theatrics of this band, but they don´t bother me at all, since the music is so good. All tracks are at least good and Plus loin vers le ciel, with its epic 9 minutes time, is probably the highlight here. Interesting enough several parts seem to foresee the neo prog style of the 80´s (La Folie is almost a blueprint for early Marillion).

Conclusion: a very interesting band indeed! Although far from perfect, it has some real great moments and it surely spurred my interest in knowing their other works and also something about Ange. For this one my rating is something between 3,5 and four stars. Recommended.

Review by kenethlevine
2 stars Some recording artists are like musical painters, or even better, sculptors. Others are more like theatrical performers, not as much to my taste but still occupying a niche that some favor. Among these are practitioners of the baser arts of the stage. I'm speaking of course of overwrought melodrama, and nowhere is this redundant phrasing more appropriate than in the ANGE-influenced school of symphonic prog. If I may extend this train of thought beyond the end of the tracks, I might add that this MONA LISA album could be held up as Exhibit A, not because it is terrible, but rather, conversely, because it is musically so strong that the vocal histrionics sabotage it at every turn.

Eight tracks, the three good ones all being instrumental, and the remainder offering a few glimpses of ....gasp...tasteful understated playing and even singing, particularly in Part 3 of the title trilogy. The rest is quite simply sabotaged. This isn't like ECLAT, who actually are wise enough to tend mostly to the instrumental end, or ANGE, where even the music isn't that interesting, or PENTACLE, whose melodies fairly sparkle. This could have been a major achievement, granted that its appearance in 1977 does not work in its favor, and that some of the best instrumental parts remind me eerily of JANE's concurrent work.

This is smack dab between 2 and 3 stars but loses out because clearly the lyrics are significant to the concept yet they are couriered with haste and arrive as damaged goods. Hence I must pull out my replica of the world's smallest violin while I round down.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The second half of 1975 was an excellent period for Mona Lisa.Playing live next to Ange, Carpe Diem, Tangerine and Pulsar and having an original set full of dancers, mimes and slide shows led to the increased of the group's fame.However arguments between Jean-Paul Pierson and the rest of the line-up led Francis Poulet to disband Mona Lisa.During this short period they realized how hard it was to earn their daily bread and soon the group would reform with Christian Gallas refusing to return.He was replaced by a young and talented Pascal Jordan.Pieces for a new album were already composed by the former line-up and in 1976 Mona Lisa focused on finishing their next album as well as re-establishing their fame through numerous concerts.At the fall of 1976 the third album ''Le petit violon de Mr. Gregoire'' was recorded at the Tetra Studios in Antibes with Jean-Pierre Massiera as the sound engineer.Atoll's singer Andre Balzer, who was speding time in the same studio during the same period, participated in some backing and lead voices, although he refused to be included in the liner notes.The album was eventually released on the Crypto label, the renamed Artcane, in January 1977.

Despite the struggling circumstances the group went through, ''Le petit violon de Mr. Gregoire'' is yet another musically mature and competent album by Mona Lisa, much following the same Symphonic Rock attitude for which they were known for.However their new work, especially during the opening side, sounds a bit rockier and more upfront with less muddy directions and a more pronounced guitar flavor among the impressive keyboard parts of Jean-Paul Pierson.Excellent guitar-fronted pieces like ''Le chant des glaces'' or ''Solaris'' was not what the fans were expecting for, featuring a more bombastic and dynamice side of Mona Lisa, containing both impressive melodies and symphonic sections.The rest of the album goes along the typical Mona Lisa style of Theatrical Progressive Rock, highlighted undoubtfully by the sidelong eponymous piece, which is over 20 minutes long.This piece was already performed by the group just after the release ''Grimaces'' album and finds the group in a very consistent inspiration.Full of instrumental twists, ''Le petit violon de Mr. Gregoire'' is a great piece of French Symphonic Rock with even some punchy guitars next to the monster symphonic keyboards and the delicate flute themes of Le Guennec.Another example of a fine Prog epic, struggling to find its balance between melodious textures, dramatic instrumental exercises, pompous orchestrations and a theatrical lyricism.Extremely solid work with fantastic and creative keyboard alternations and some unique atmospheres, including both aggressive and more romantic soundscapes.

Propably Mona Lisa's most reliable album.Among the finest works of 70's French Progressive Rock with a vast palette of complex themes, striking melodies and powerful vocals.Highly recommended.

Latest members reviews

5 stars One of the highlights of seventies' French symphonic rock Undoubtedly "Le Petit Violon de Mr. Grégoire" by the French band Mona Lisa is one of the major classics of French symphonic rock. As with lots of French bands of that period one of the hallmarks are the almost hysterical and very expre ... (read more)

Report this review (#610907) | Posted by Life Line Project | Monday, January 16, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I recently posted a reply on a tread about 70's music and mood of the period. It was mentioned more than once how at the time many did pick up a record onlz because the cover art was apealing...Well, I did it again. Since I was one of those guys, and I discovered bands like Gentle Giant and Eloy ... (read more)

Report this review (#512650) | Posted by scandosch | Thursday, September 1, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Love the artwork. Mona Lisa is a French symphonic prog band. As with everything from this country, the music here has it's very own identity. Take Peter Gabriel's Genesis and add even more theatrical effects to in particular the vocals and to the music. In this respect; we are talking about ... (read more)

Report this review (#390204) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Sunday, January 30, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars In his third studio albun "Le Petit Violon de Monsieur Gregoire" the French band MONALISA seems to me be reached the apex of their creativity, in my opnion only comparable with "Grimaces" 1975 due to the musical style and structural melodies. Presenting besides their dramaticl yrics, (that giv ... (read more)

Report this review (#301887) | Posted by maryes | Sunday, October 3, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars One year before their classical author(classic) Before he(it) is too late , this group fascinated by the symphonic Rock and the theatrical side of Genesis (with Peter Gabriel) had taken(brought) out this similar and also advisable album. We shall find the singer Dominque Le Guennec there putting ... (read more)

Report this review (#164736) | Posted by Discographia | Sunday, March 23, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars a master piece. I don't understand why it didn't get famous as Ange album, may be because it went too far in its baroque style. Maybe slightly oldfashionned now for young people, but not for me, its sounds perfect just after a Genesis or a Led Zep piece ... (read more)

Report this review (#4888) | Posted by | Monday, November 29, 2004 | Review Permanlink

1 stars just finished listening to this lp half an hour ago - I hadn't been listening to it for a long time - and, well, it sounds so poor to me! The singer is too theatrical and opera-like that I can't really bearhim at times. And the music? well, all your average signatutre changes, all the typical ... (read more)

Report this review (#4886) | Posted by | Wednesday, July 28, 2004 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Their classic album.As close as possible to Ange.Very theatrical typically French symphonic rock.Lot of rhythm changes,but sometimes a little bit too baroque.Could be nice for the real lovers of that kind of music.It's a major French group! ... (read more)

Report this review (#4881) | Posted by | Tuesday, February 3, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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