The Quatuor Anches Hantées likes to give voice to those whom history has rendered inaudible.
The inspiration for this programme stems from a mystery: the identity of an unknown woman who fuelled passions and contributed to the craze surrounding Ludwig Van Beethoven. We know all about the composer’s many health problems, especially his deafness. However, his private and sentimental life was kept quiet, which helped to stir up the crowds. To further arouse the curiosity of music lovers, Beethoven left a letter, found at his death in his papers, which was never sent and whose addressee – despite the research of historians – we will never know. Did he hide it from us on purpose?
Richard Dubugnon, in composing the Lettre à l’Immortelle Bien-Aimée, a melodrama for clarinet quartet and actor, gives voice to the object of Beethoven’s fantasies. In an expressive, slow movement, interspersed with faster, more frenetic movements, the music dialogues with the ten pages of this letter and takes us into the intimacy of its reader, lover of the greatest “super star” that classical music has ever known.
It makes sense to give voice to all these women – lovers, wives, sisters – their works and their struggle that time has so far muzzled. Too long installed as a stooge or muses, they finally take their rightful place alongside their alter egos.
Like Alma, like Clara, her time ordered Fanny Mendelssohn to be a wife and mother. Even her brother Felix acknowledged her immense talent as a composer, but fearing that it might outstrip his own, he preferred to reassure her in her role as a housewife.
And like him, listening to Fanny Mendelssohn’s only quartet, recently published and transcribed here for clarinet quartet, one understands to what extent the composer’s immense ardour, dizzying avant-gardism and brilliant and powerful discourse made the greatest composers of the time pale in comparison. Her inspiration was not about to dry up when she died suddenly at the age of 42.