In the recital “Les Mots d’amour”, which they will perform on Saturday June 11 at the Théâtre du Châtelet, pop singer and classical pianist Alexandre Tharaud honored Édith Piaf, Joséphine Baker and Serge Gainsbourg. Cross interview.
The piano-voice duo recital has its charm, but lends itself to explosive alliances. Like the explosive Angélique Kidjo, a whirlwind scene of Afro pop, and the poet Alexandre Tharaud, a classical pianist obsessed with baroque and Barbara. One has already updated the repertoire of several icons. Others escort Bénabar as Natalie Dessay. Gathered on stage by their passion for French song, they evoked it for us Words of love : istorya sa pinulongan, tingog, kusog …
How to give birth Words of love ?
Alexandre Tharaud : In 2020, Angélique invited me to a show Bring me and Black Day, two songs by Barbara, as part of the Saint-Denis Festival. At the conclusion of this duo, presented at the basilica, it seemed natural for us to continue this collaboration.
Angelique Kidjo : We want to talk about love, an inexhaustible topic, in the broadest sense of the term, through words. Unlike words of love to comfort people, especially when coming out of prison.
What is the relationship of each of you to the French song?
AK: I like the French language. In Benin, my father, with his banjo, sang to me with Aznavour and other trendy translators. My sister compiles all the lyrics into one big songbook. At 9 years old, I sang “Tonight I’m the most beautiful to dance”, literally: in my head, I’m going to the ball! French singing remains a childhood dream.
SA: My father was an operetta baritone, my grandfather sang in brasseries, so I have enjoyed popular music since my youth. As a teenager, Barbara became my compass. When he arrived in Paris, I would see him almost every night. We pianists have followed the human voice throughout our lives. The singers are our masters and we try to imitate them. If I worked with Angélique, the next day, I’d better play Chopin or Mozart.
Did you include Barbara in the show?
and : Paradoxically, no. We chose about twenty songs, some happy and sparkling, some more sad, hits by Piaf, Joséphine Baker or Nougaro, covered in different arrangements, and less anticipated titles, such as Blue ones in Gainsbourg or Words of lovecreated by Jacqueline François in the 1950s. We also included two more new titles, by Dominique A and Pierre Lapointe.
AK : No song is chosen that is not a reminder of our daily lives. Take there is no happy lovepoetry of resistance from Aragon taken by the Brassens and provoking war: how not to think of Ukraine today?
“Angelique entered the stage with something that had obviously swept away everything in her path: it wasn’t a wave, it was a volcano! » —Alexandre Tharaud
Are there songs that are closer to your heart?
AK : Lily, by Pierre Perret, touched me deeply, because it tells my story. I heard this when I arrived in France in 1983. The story of this immigrant is pretty much mine. I don’t sell cauliflower, but I do household chores, take care of hair, take care of the kids. Having left Benin for political reasons, I experienced the pain of separation, the sadness of not hearing from my parents. When I sing it, I focus on not being overweight. Same as Words of love, by Piaf. We all carry the tears of a lost loved one. Alex knows this: half an hour, I live the song without me singing it well!
and : Piaf’s songs are the ones that motivate me the most in this show. A century later, your style is different, but it seems like it was written for you.
What do you value most about this collaboration?
AK : What I like about Alexandre is that he is not only a pianist, but a musician who sings with his piano. It carries me, pulls me, makes me walk … it’s like a wave, both minimalist and full of emotion. We talked, we exchanged, we expressed, the conversation was constant. We are complementary. These words of love, we share them with the utmost simplicity.
and : There’s a first love story with a voice, and Angélique’s has been with me for a long time. I also discovered his inner energy. I always say that I feel better on stage than at home or with friends: in Angélique, I have the impression that it is multiplied by a thousand. He enters the stage with some kind of evidence that wipes out everything in his path: it’s not a wave, it’s a volcano! Like life’s money, it’s not hidden and straight to the point. From the first notes, we go there, without question.
Words of love, directed by Vincent Huguet, June 11, Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris 4e, 8 pm, € 10-75. chatelet.com.