“She quit music. Why play? Who would hear it? Since she could never, in a short-sleeved velvet dress, on an Erard piano, in a concert, beating the ivory keys with her light fingers, feel, like a breeze, a murmur circulating around her. of ecstasy. There was no need to be bored studying. It was by reading this extract from Gustave Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary that pianist David Kadouch introduced the recital he was giving on Sunday May 29, Salle Gaveau, in Paris. A program dedicated, like the disc recently released by Mirare, to the music that could have marked the life of Emma Bovary, a kind of Frauenliebe und Leben (“the love and life of a woman”), Schumann, without the voice.
The musician, always sensitive to the affinities between literature and music, immediately loved the Flaubertian heroine, before extending his feminist empathy to others sacrificed on the altar of patriarchy and social norms, the “forgotten” composers that are Fanny Mendelssohn, of which four pieces taken from the calendar collection Das Jahr (“the year”) serve as common thread, but also Pauline Viardot, Clara Schumann and Louise Farrenc, returning in petticoats accompanied by the Nocturnal Chopin and the Liszt from paraphrases of operas.
A great delicacy envelops this concert. There is of course this terrible destiny of a woman, punctuated by a few narrative indications given by the pianist, as well as the choice of works. There is above all the admirably refined playing of David Kadouch, his quivering, caressing, silky touch even in the impalpable, the naturalness of a superlative technique carrying poetry, the subtle palette of shades which characterizes this piano imbued with a nostalgia native.
May. Frühlingslied: this light and melodious piece by Fanny Mendelssohn opens the evening in the month of the nuptials of Emma and Charles Bovary. A disenchanting union that will gradually darken the young woman, whose exalted desires take the turn of a Hispanic Serenade by Pauline Viardot, played with passion and elegance. The three Nocturnes op. 9 by Chopin opens up to the world of the psyche, between solitary dreamlikeness and a beating heart where dreams throb. The fabric of the legato deployed by David Kadouch is so dense that it seems to plunge the music into apnea, evoking strange, almost phantasmagorical worlds, premonitory of a possible end, in a way.
More than a year has passed. We are now in the fall. With September. Am Flusse, Fanny Mendelssohn introduces this time the ball – that of the Marquis d’Andervilliers – which Emma Bovary attends, dazzled, on the evening which marks her first meeting with Rodolphe, of whom she will become the mistress. A magical celebration extended by the Slow Waltz from the ballet Coppélia, by Léo Delibes (transcribed for the piano by Ernst von Dohnanyi), weightless under the pianist’s nimble fingers. David Kadouch highlighted the science and art of Louise Farrenc’s variations. After a flexible and voluble introduction, his Air russe varied op. 17 does indeed sound like a contrapuntal parade exploiting a theme whose melodic outline recalls the sixth song of Schumann’s Dichterliebe, Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome.
Three seasons have leaked. With June. Serenade, Fanny Mendelssohn evokes Emma’s sad melancholy, to the point that Charles decides to take his wife to the Rouen opera house to listen to Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. Double shock of the music, revived by the Lisztian Reminiscences of Lucia di Lammermoor interpreted with weightless virtuosity, and the presence of Léon, a man who has long attracted her and will be her second lover. The magnificent Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann op. 20 written by Clara Schumann in 1853 evoke this desire for amorous fusion.
It was in the following March that Emma, abandoned by her lover and crippled with debts, decided to end her life. The floor is definitely left to Fanny Mendelssohn: first März. Agitato, which quotes the Lutheran chorale “Christ is risen” before the very beautiful Melody which closes the evening. A final denial if necessary to the judgment of Felix Mendelssohn, who always opposed the publication of his sister’s works and wrote on June 2, 1837 to their mother: “Fanny, such as I know her, has never desired to become a composer or have a calling for it; she is too much of a woman. David Kadouch knows how wrong the author of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was.