Proust & Music

April 15, 2013 | By Anthony Leroy and Sandra Moubarak | Translated by Rachael Small
Anthony Leroy and Sandra Moubarak

Cellist Anthony Leroy and pianist Sandra Moubarak are a critically acclaimed duo of classical musicians. A couple both on and off stage, they have performed at such prestigious festivals and concert venues as the Folle Journée de Nantes, Musée d’Orsay Auditorium, Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival in Finland, Bilbao’s Musika, and Tokyo’s Century Hall, to name a few.  In 2004, their second album, devoted to Mendelssohn, met with wide acclaim and won a number of important French awards, including the Diapason d’Or of the Year and the Sélection Arte. 

Passionate artists, the Leroy-Moubarak duet devote a large part of their time to the artistic direction of the Saint-Riquier-Baie de Somme Festival.  Their most recent album, « Marcel Proust le Musicien », is a double compact disc conceived around Marcel Proust’s musical world and the Vinteuil Sonata.  It was released by Decca-Universal Music in 2012 and includes readings from La Prisonnière and Du côte de chez Swann by French actors Romane Bohringer, Didier Sandre, and Michael Lonsdale.


This project is sustained, implicitly, by a profound admiration for the Recherche du Temps perdu.  But our own Recherche is distinctive: won over by such musical prose, we have no intentions of inventorying or piecing together literary scores – which are themselves essentially fictional.

Fidelity to the Proustian aesthetic calls for analogy, one’s relationship to their work calls for a mirror.  Like Marcel Proust, who drew freely from musical works in order to cross-breed and transcribe them into novels, we traverse the early 20th century of French music at our discretion.  It is a “sound reading” of the Recherche, subjective and rightfully so. What we experience as interpreters echoes the sentences – novelistic descriptions materialize in unexpected ways, from our musical fantasies. Like Swann, the listener on paper, we are often shaken by particular “little phrases”, which we have brought together in this program.

Each of the composers we have chosen made an indelible mark on the life of Marcel Proust.  We have selected, among myriad others, Camille Saint-Saëns – the Romance of the Sonata in F major n° 2 op.123 ; César Franck, whose Sonata for violin and piano FWV 8 in A major – here transcribed for cello – enthralled the writer; the resonances of the last Claude Debussy; and finally, Reynaldo Hahn, with whom the music lover shared twenty five years of often stormy intimacy. All of these names are scattered across the Proustian writings, and the readings interspersed between musical works allow listeners to catch these references.

Ultimately, what fascinated us in the seven volumes of the Recherche is the way souls communicate through music, embodied here in the osmosis of cello and piano. The fusion of two feelings is inspired by this Proustian theme.  After all, what better way to define the spirit of the Sonata during this period? Nobody has ever known better than Proust how to transcribe this understanding that unites us beyond words; it is the love that Swann carries for Odette, rendered sublime when he listens to the Vinteuil Sonata.


Anthony Leroy and Sandra Moubarak will perform at The Center for Fiction in New York City on April 25, 2013 at 7pm. Please click here for more information.


Air France is a proud sponsor of 2013: A Year with Proust, a year long festival organized by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

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