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We have just heard you play " Widmung " by Robert Schumann on an August Förster piano.
Why did you choose that particular make of piano ?

Click the picture to see a video clip : Le Papillon et la Fleur (Victor Hugo / Gabriel Fauré)

Click on the picture to see a video clip :
Le Papillon et la Fleur
(Victor Hugo / Gabriel Fauré)

You're absolutely right, I have my own Förster piano which has exactly what I want of a piano; that is to say, that you can find sonorities and play around and shape them as you want, without it feeling in any way artificial. In 1992 in Schumann's House in Zwickau, I noticed the special sonority of a 1943 Förster piano and I took advantage of the opportunity to give a Schumann Recital on it.
You accompany yourself on the piano even in the most difficult pieces. Could you tell us how you have achieved this perfect artistic osmosis ?
It has taken a lot of passion, a long... very long period of work and a lot of patience... first of all working on the piano part which was often difficult ... and then, as far as the language is concerned, which is often not my mother tongue, practising articulating the text separately from the music, then adding the voice... and finally getting them all to agree.
When does your interest in Robert Schumann, whose " Diechterliebe " and " Liederkreis " you have just recorded, date from ?
It dates from my starting out on the piano with my first piano teacher, Mme Riel who revealed the world of music to me through Schumann and who got me to sing - even as a child - the Lieder including the cycle " Frauenliebe und Leben ".
" Frauenliebe und Leben " which you gave, if I'm not mistaken, in recital in Moscow ...
Yes, in the Rachmaninov Hall... on the 8th of May 1993
Aside from Schumann, which composers do you feel particularly close to ?
Rubens, a faithful musical friend
Rubens, a faithful musical friend
Oh! There are a lot .... a lot I have known through playing the piano and then through studying singing. I especially like Schubert, Schumann - we've already spoken about him - Gabriel Fauré, Gounod, Verdi, Wagner, Berlioz, who I heard on the radio as a young child ... which aroused in me such enthusiasm that my parents decided to let me learn music..
Are there any singers who have had a particular influence on you ?
I got to know Tony Poncet in 1977 ,we toured France together with " Opera Non Stop "... Tony Poncet cannot be compared with other tenors, he takes off suddenly as soon as he starts to sing and can glide down from the highest notes to the low ones ...!
Tony Poncet " that handsome devil..! " as Maria Callas described him...
Yes ... Maria Callas ... I can almost say that she was the inspiration for my singing career, because, until I heard her, I wasn't interested in opera which seemed a bit frivolous and superficial compared with the very serious study of the piano that I had undertaken.When I heard Mme Callas, I was bowled over and I said to myself ... there's something in the voice that's worth discovering.
Listening to your recordings of " Die schöne Müllerin " by Schubert and " La Bonne Chanson " by Gabriel Fauré, we are aware of your appreciation of nature. Would that be correct ?
Yes, of course, I adore nature. I particularly love mountain scenery, all the landscapes of the Ariège, the torrents , the streams next to which I could spend days on end listening to their babbling ...
What is it that motivates you the most, musically speaking ?
I try ... as far as it is possible to get close to an ideal, to an absolute in its deepest and most vast sense; in order to do this I try to go towards the composer's intentions... I try to find again in what they have written, what they have felt, what they have given shape to in this music which can transport us beyond anything we can imagine...
I would like to add a memory... which follows on from what I have just said ... it was after a recital I had given at the Rachmaninov Hall in Moscow on 8 May 1993; someone came to see me and said to me " Ah! Madame, you have brought us... a lasting happiness... " I think... that is what one can most wish for ... as the ultimate reward

Translation Michael Ashworth


Monsegur Vaillant sings to her own accompaniment at the piano
Soprano and concert pianist

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