Music chosen with a purpose - a program with a message
Bruce Zeisel | Albany, NY United States | 10/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This an intriguing album. The music was chosen to build a growing impression as the listener proceeds from piece to piece. Grimaud begins with John Corigliano's ostinato based on the second movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. Then an ethereal interpretation of Beethoven's "Tempest" sonata is followed by a driving performance of Beethoven's predecessor to the Ninth ymphony, the Choral Fantasia. This sequence of music could have ended here successfully - leaving the listener well rewarded and fully satisfied. But Grimaud doesn't let us off easily. She takes us further along this path, reaching out beyond Beethoven's 18th-19th century exposition of brotherhood into a hair raising breath-taking horror wherein it appears that the sopranos in the chorus are actually screaming! At that cresting point of intensity, the piano leads us from discord to harmony and the music resolves magnificantly along the lines of a Bach Prelude culminating in a sense of peace. This is a deep and meaningful experience, one I am grateful for. In her notes, Grimaud speaks of "Illumination of the Spirit" - without becoming religious about it she shows / acknowledges a sense of the numinous and has chosen this music to bring it to us. Her execution is more than "good enough" her interpretations are luminous and the sound is of the SACD is wonderful.
As an aside, the booklet alone, with Grimaud's notes, was for me well worth the purchase price of the album! One should read this before listening!"
Splendid Deutsche Grammophon Recording Debut For Helene Grim
John Kwok | New York, NY USA | 05/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is truly one amazing CD which captures finally at last, both the sensitive as well as dramatic sides of Ms. Grimaud's performances, which I have been blessed to hear before both live and on CD. Indeed, here she makes a very compelling case that she can play with much conviction, not only such Classical works as Beethoven's "Tempest" piano sonata (one of the most exciting, brilliant recordings of recent vintage) and the Choral Fantasy (which is a sterling example of her lyrical, dramatic playing) but also the Corigliano work and Part's Credo (which is a fascinating example of her subtle playing alongside an orchestra and chorus). Salonen may be her best orchestral collaborator to date, conducting the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and chorus in two exemplary performances of Beethoven's Choral Fantasy and Part's Credo (The impassioned singing of the chorus, along with Grimaud's superb, subtle playing may be the highlight of this CD; this is one work which I intend to listen again and again.). Deutsche Grammophon's sound engineers have done a brilliant job not only in recording the orchestra and chorus, but perhaps more importantly, in capturing the dynamic range of Ms. Grimaud's performances. If anyone still has doubts regarding Ms. Grimaud's splendid musicianship, this excellent CD - especially here in its Hybrid SACD format - should finally put these to an end. For me it is truly a tantalizing glimpse as to what a Beethoven piano sonata and/or concerto cycle might be like from Ms. Grimaud and Deutsche Grammophon; either would be replete with thoughtful, impassioned performances akin to the best from the likes of Kempff and Arrau, to name but a few."
Excellent performances of Beethoven Tempest Sonata and Chora
D. R. Schryer | Poquoson, VA United States | 10/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Helene Grimaud is somewhat of an enigma and also a maverick. For one thing she loves wolves and helps sponsor a wolf sanctuary. Also she is exceptionally attractive and has a very strong personality which comes through even in recorded performances. But Helene Grimaud is also a very good pianist for whom artistry is as important as technigue, and she has an abundance of both. Buy any performance by Grimaud and you will probably be very favorably impressed by it even if it differs in subtle ways from performances by other pianists. I purchased this CD primarily to hear Grimaud's performance of Beethoven's Fantasy for Piano, Chorus, and Orchestra (often called simply the Choral Fastasy) -- an unusual, but very impressive, work which I love and which served as a precursor for the finale of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. As I expected Grimaud gives a very satisfactory performance of this work as well as of Beethoven's Tempest Sonata. Since I am not a fan of 20th century music, I can't comment knowledgably on the other two works on this CD. You may find them quite impressive, but even if you don't Grimaud's performances of the two works by Beethoven (especially the Choral Fantasy) are worth the quite reasonable purchase price. Incidentally, this is a hybrid CD which will play on regular CD players but give even better sound if you are fortunate enough to have a Super Audio CD player -- the finest sound currently available in my opinion. Highly recommended."