This surprising program is a joy through and through. It begins with a 1985 work by John Corigliano (Fantasia on an Ostinato) that uses the slow-movement theme from Beethoven's Seventh Symphony and then later flies off in... more »to wonderfully emotion-filled directions. Next come Beethoven's "Tempest" sonata, played with just the right drama, and his fabulous "Choral Fantasy," op. 80, which is part sonata, part study for the 9th symphony. Pianist Grimaud plays the Fantasy with alternating delicacy and power, and the CD ends with Arvo Pärt's Credo, scored for piano solo, mixed chorus, and orchestra. This last piece is rich and complex, and in some ways encompasses the previous works' emotions and textures; those who think of Pärt as the quiet, holy minimalist, are in for a treat, and perhaps shock. Grimaud is simply magnificent regardless of the century or style; the beauty of her tone is surpassed only by its expressiveness. Esa Pekka Salonen leads the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Choir handsomely. This is a very special disc, a must for your collection. --Robert Levine« less
This surprising program is a joy through and through. It begins with a 1985 work by John Corigliano (Fantasia on an Ostinato) that uses the slow-movement theme from Beethoven's Seventh Symphony and then later flies off into wonderfully emotion-filled directions. Next come Beethoven's "Tempest" sonata, played with just the right drama, and his fabulous "Choral Fantasy," op. 80, which is part sonata, part study for the 9th symphony. Pianist Grimaud plays the Fantasy with alternating delicacy and power, and the CD ends with Arvo Pärt's Credo, scored for piano solo, mixed chorus, and orchestra. This last piece is rich and complex, and in some ways encompasses the previous works' emotions and textures; those who think of Pärt as the quiet, holy minimalist, are in for a treat, and perhaps shock. Grimaud is simply magnificent regardless of the century or style; the beauty of her tone is surpassed only by its expressiveness. Esa Pekka Salonen leads the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Choir handsomely. This is a very special disc, a must for your collection. --Robert Levine
A Fusion of Intellect and Passion: A Magnificent Recital!
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"CREDO is simply one of the most extraordinary CDs ever to be released. DGG has set a precedent for significant 'recordings' that can only enhance the future of Classical Music survival for the home listener. The concept of this thoughtful grouping of four works is the brain child of the phenomenal pianist Helene Grimaud the concept of interweaving musical threads from Bach and Beethoven through the contemporary John Corigliano and Arvo Part results here in an experience that is at once satisfying to the mind and to the heart. This is programming at its best!Helene Grimaud is a pianist of great dexterity and intelligence, but she is also a pianist who imbues the composers' works with inner strength of spirit and is not afraid to allow her own convictions about the piece to come forward. One is reminded of the great Romantic pianists whose personality enhanced their playing instead of seeming to concentrate on mere reproduction of the composers' wishes. Her playing is warm, the strength coming from not just the fingers but the entire body. She is partnered by Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Choir and as always, Salonen finds the essence of the works in a way as fresh as the finest conductors of history (and present).The CD opens with John Corigliano's Fantasia on a theme from the Beethoven 7th Symphony's 'Allegretto' - a work of haunting spare beauty played with mysticism by Grimaud. This whisper segues into the Tempest Sonata by Beethoven in which Grimaud demonstrates that she can delve into the majesty of Beethoven with the finest of Beethoven specialists. Almost without pause the third work (Beethoven's Choral Fantasy) begins and by the time the chorus enters it is difficult not to feel as though we are witnessing Elysian. The true surprise of the CD is the final selection which is Part's "Credo" composed for piano, orchestra and chorus and uses a direct quotation at the piano of a Bach prelude that leads into a harrowingly dramatic Credo as sung and played by Salonen's energetically supporting conducting and forces. This is overwhelmingly and beautifully an homage to the indomitable human spirit.The accompanying booklet includes a poetic introduction by Grimaud and a conversation between Grimaud and Michael Church, both of which further substantiate the significance of the originality of Helene Grimaud's philosophy. She is a Colorist and a keeper of the soul. This CD is a must for every type of lover of classical music. Instead of 5 stars, it deserves 10!"
Refreshing and Thoughtful
Tom | Toronto,, Ontario, Canada | 02/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is such an involving listening experience that it seems odd that more classical music CDs don't borrow the approach espoused here. Rather than a disc dominated by one composer, certainly the norm, we get something more closely approximating a recital, a very adventurous one at that, which links composers and pieces that at first glance would seem to have relatively little in common. Part of the joy for the listener is sensing and identifying points of connection among the pieces and finding different ways to listen than perhaps would be in evidence if all the music had come from the same composer. What makes this work a success, however, is Grimaud, who sounds thoroughly at ease and confident in this mixed repertoire. Though she looks delicate, she can pound and thunder with the best (or worst) of them and it is to her credit here that she holds her sometimes tendency to overstate a phrase well in check. She sounds very relaxed, like she is having fun exploring the music, and her interpretations of the Beethoven pieces have a freshness and immediacy that is just thoroughly and immediately engaging. Might be the best classical music CD released this year."
tommwi | Sweden | 02/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I believe?...this is an interesting recording that deserves to be heard both for its unusual coupling as well as for the performances given here. Let's start from the beginning:The Corigliano piece does have some moments of beauty, and mainly so from where the theme from Beethoven 7th - 2 occur and to the end. As a whole the piece seems plain and simple, although some colorations and harmonies are interesting. However the transition into the Beethoven sonata is remarkable and very elegant indeed. All of a sudden you may be a bit into the Tempest sonata without really noticing it! At least I was.With the Tempest we move into home territories for Grimaud. The expressiveness from Grimaud that we have come to know suits Beethoven perfect and brings a freshness I find irresistible. She plays loud, whisperingly quite and also very much in between. Her unusual spread chord playing and her search for freedom of timing make up for the most involving Beethoven sonata I've heard in years. Things progress from strong to marvellous here. The second movement is so fresh but also very beautifully played. It is matched by a third movement that I lack words to describe. If you know her readings of some Beethoven sonatas on Teldec you have an idea of what to expect - but this is even better. This needs to be heard.With the reading of the Choral Fantasy it is game, set and match for Grimaud. And for Salonen, SRSO and most of all for the choral singing at the end. The joyous energy that is put into this has no equal in other recordings of this piece that I know. The orchestral sound is dense and rhythmically strong. There is a wonderful forward momentum despite its rhapsodic character. There is beautiful playing from Grimaud in the middle of the piece that is especially good. Some parts of the interplay between Grimaud and the orchestra are slightly manipulated but still work very well. Surprisingly few if any wrong notes in a live recording where there are no hints of an audience at all. Strongly recommended!The Pärt piece is new to me. It starts off with great choral singing and after a while leads into some structured chaos. After that we hear some typical Pärt sounds and of course there is this Bach prelude. It all makes up for good listening. I happen to have the French version of this CD and it has this Bach prelude as a bonus. It is romantically played and when the Credo moves into the Bach prelude it is inspired from, I hear the most moving part on this CD. Unfortunately this Bach-bonus is not included in some other incarnations of this CD.All in all, I believe (!) the Beethoven pieces are reasons good enough for a recommendation. The choral singing at the end of the Choral Fantasy is reason enough for me! Find a place and timing to test your equipment and play it loud! You may also find new pieces to enjoy here and most of all discover what a great work the Choral Fantasy is.A word of warning. Grimaud playing is very characteristic and what I find very fresh can also be mannered in the ears of others. Frequent use of rubatos and thick chord playing makes for a challenging listening that will irritate some. Melodic lines are stretched and then hurried. Straight lines and simplicity is not a Grimaud approach."
tommwi | 02/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This new recording made by Helene Grimaud proves eventually that classical music isn't as narrow as some people tend to say. The program presented has been carefully planed by the artist(listen for example to the allusion to the Tempest Sonata achieved by Grimaud, just after the first orchestral entry of Beethoven's Choral Fantasy) Besides this architectural aspect, one can agree that Grimaud's charisma is indeed unique. The way she captures such intensity in Corigliano's Fantasia, with such a small thematic material, is incredible, as in Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, a work that some would define as a "minor" piece, but which takes all its expression under Grimaud's fingers.As for the Credo - which is also the title of the recording (a very rare attempt for a classical album) - although I like it a bit less, the imagination and the enthousiasm that emanates from the pianist are just fabulous, and makes the work enjoyable.Both Salonen and the orchstra have done a great job, with such conviction that one can only love this recording.For French speaking fans of Helene Grimaud, I invite them to buy immediately on Amazon's french site her own "biography" she wrote beautifully - I do not exaggerate - by herself, Variations Sauvages (Wild Variations), in which, besides her qualities as a writer, shows us (just like in the booklet of the CD) that she is also a very fine philosopher."
A must-have disc
Frederick II of Hohenstaufen | right here | 06/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I purchased this disc primarily for the "choral fantasy" and "the tempest" written by Beethoven and was not in any manner dissapointed. In fact, this is the best "choral fantasy" I have heard. The emotion of this music literally pours from the speakers. Much to my surprise, though, the work I have listened to most often, with rapt attention, is the title track "Credo" (by Arvo Part, a composer I thought I wasn't fond of). Upon first listening, I literally said "Wow!" This is powerful music and led me to change my opinion of Arvo Part. For those of you who, like me, disdain most modern works, this may change your opinion. Very highly recommeded!"