HÉLÈNE GRIMAUD / CHOPIN, RACHMANINOV

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HÉLÈNE GRIMAUD

FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN
Piano Sonata No. 2 op. 35
Barcarolle op. 60
Berceuse op. 57

SERGEI RACHMANINOV
Piano Sonata No. 2 op. 36
Int. Release 01 Feb. 2005
1 CD / Download
0289 477 5325 4 CD DDD GH
"A brilliant classical pianist . . . Her music has the power to inspire people . . ."

Sunday Times Magazine, 2004


트랙리스트

Frédéric Chopin (1810 - 1849)
Piano Sonata No.2 in B flat minor, Op.35

Sergey Vasil'yevich Rachmaninov (1873 - 1943)
Piano Sonata No.2 In B Flat Minor, Op.36

Frédéric Chopin (1810 - 1849)
Berceuse in D flat, Op.57

8.
0:00
4:51

Barcarolle in F sharp, Op.60

Hélène Grimaud

총 재생시간 1:01:54

Her latest recital programme proved a work of art in itself . . . The musical world is the richer for her rediscovery of them (the sonatas of Chopin).

A striking intelligence marks everything Hélène Grimaud does . . . It can even be seen in her repertoire choices, such as the seemingly unlikely yet ultimately successful pairing . . . of Chopin and Rachmaninov on her latest recording.

Her Chopin and Rachmaninov are volcanic, a force of nature. The playing, like her eyes, is persuasive, insistent, mesmeric.

. . . stunning recital . . . We gave "Credo" five stars back in February 2004, so the omens are good for her new disc.

Hélène Grimaud is a formidably talented artist with strong, sometimes willful interpretive
ideas . . . Grimaud's interpretation, then, is unusually personal, not just in its details but even in its vision of the work as a whole, and it's very powerful -- like the Chopin quite high-strung and very dramatic. Certainly she pegs the climaxes in the outer
movements and offers a central lento whose rhapsodic freedom of phrasing never
compromises the music's basic songfulness. She captures the finale's mercurial,
emotional ambivalence about as well as anyone ever has . . . I can only applaud Grimaud's thoughtfulness, risk-taking, and obvious command of both the keyboard and the musical text.

Marked not only by extreme virtuosity, but by the deepest poetic impulse, Grimaud's juxtaposition . . . will easily stand as one of the year's best recordings. Moreover, the . . . take on Chopin's Second Sonata alone should go down as one of the greatest-ever recordings of this piece . . . Almost unbearably moving performance.

Yet the connections between the two sonatas are obvious. apart from sharing a common central tonality, both inhabit similarly turbulent emotional worlds offering in the process considerable challenges for the interpreter especially in terms of maintaining structural coherence . . . Hélène Grimaud rises to these challenges admirably. Like Argerich, she is a charismatic performer, responding instinctively to the ebb and flow of Chopin's writing. In this respect, although everything seems perfectly controlled, there's also an almost spontaneous sense of forward momentum which one would normally experience in a live concert . . . the expansions seem entirely plausible, serving in fact to strengthen the logical flow of the music. The performance and recording, too, are highly persuasive . . .

Her interpretation is full of romance and sweep. She brings a welcome degree of fire to the outer movements; she plays the slow middle movement with an appealing sort of misty melancholy.

Marked not only by extreme virtuosity, but by the deepest poetic impulse, Hélène Grimaud's juxtaposition of the second solo sonatas by Chopin and Rachmaninoff will easily stand as one of the year's best recordings. Moreover, the French-born New York resident's take on Chopin's Second Sonata alone should go down as one of the greatest-ever recordings of this piece.

She plays with drama and lyricism in fine proportions.

There are some real flashes of brilliance here. Grimaud remains one of the most gifted pianists around . . .

Grimaud remains one of the most gifted pianists around, and it's gratifying to hear any present day musician take the kinds of liberties with a score that the composer himself would have.

Grimaud sweeps you along with her wild abandon . . . Grimaud can easily slug it out with the best when it comes to this work . . . The "Barcarolle" is a stunning performance . . . Forced to choose I would go for the magnificent pianism of Hélène Grimaud.

Over the years, former "Wunderkind" Hélène Grimaud has turned into one of our most accomplished pianists. She has also become one of our most challenging, and those seeking an introduction to her art at its most individual and provocative could hardly do better than this new recital. The back of the jewel box promises a program that "encapsulates the very soul of the Romantic piano" . . . it also promises "uncompromising emotion" . . . there's plenty of intimacy . . . no easy listening here -- but plenty of intellectual and spiritual rewards . . . you'll be treated to plenty of virtuoso thrill: the finale of the Rachmaninov . . . is crushing in its accumulated power.

Hier spielt eine Frau. Nicht mit demonstrierter Woman-Power, mit der Martha Argerich Bollwerke zum Einsturz brachte, nicht mit parfümierter Weiblichkeit. Aber die Intimität, die zarte Hinwendung, auch das Abseitige im Ton könnte nie auf diese Art von einem männlichen Interpreten kommen . . . Nicht strukturelle Momente mit analytischen Implikationen bestimmten ihr Spiel, sondern die Kraftpotenziale des drängenden, nie nachgebenden und bei Bedarf auch kräftig pedalgestützten Voran . . . Hélène Grimaud reißt mit. Nie ist sie bloß brillant, obwohl das technische Rüstzeug dafür in überwältigender Fülle vorhanden wäre. Es gelingt ihr, nach wenigen Takten den Hörer zu vereinnahmen, ihn Anteil nehmen zu lassen an einer Reise, vor der niemand weiß, wohin sie führt. Ihre Interpretationen haben etwas Schicksalhaftes und ihr ganzes Spiel ist darauf ausgerichtet. Der Hörer gerät, zusammen mit Grimaud selbst, in einen Strom der Ereignisse, worin formale Ortung kaum möglich ist und die zugleich wegen der Spannung der Bilderfolge auch gar nicht ersehnt wird. Musikhören wird zum Überlassen, das sich dem Faszinosum des Kommenden hingibt. Daraus freilich macht Grimaud kein Geheimnis. Sie muss nichts erzwingen, da sie ganz selbstverständlich auf die Musik selbst bauen kann. Die Zweifel des Komponisten, seine Getriebenheit, seine Ruhelosigkeit, seine Hoffnungen werden zu Partnern der Interpretin. Musik wurde nicht nur gespielt, ihrem Sinn, ihrem Wollen wurde mit äußerster Hingabe nachgespürt.

Hélène Grimaud ist schön. Und sie spielt gut Klavier. Sehr gut sogar. Und besonders, wenn sie inspiriert ist . . . Man hört Wagemut und Abgewogenheit, Maßlosigkeit und ein Bewusstsein für klare Formen. Die Lust an der Melodie und an leidenschaftlicher Rhythmik. Da sind sich Komponist und Interpretin sehr nahe.

»Was für eine Frau!«, entfuhr es Frankreichs Kulturpapst Bernard Pivot. Kein Wunder: Denn die Meisterpianistin Hélène Grimaud, deren neue CD »Chopin ¿ Rachmaninov« (Deutsche Grammophon) sehr zu empfehlen ist, . . . sieht [dazu] . . . noch blendend aus . . .

Für die Französin . . . verkörpern die beiden Sonaten aus der Hoch- und Neoromantik auf besondere Art und Weise die Verbindung von Liebe, Tod und Transzendenz -- und mit einer entsprechenden Einfühlung, aber auch Verve geht Grimaud ans Werk. Ihre Interpretation der beiden großen Melodramen der Klavierliteratur ist intensiv und lässt die dissonante Harmonik der beiden Werke zu voller Schönheit erstrahlen. Hörgenuss für kontemplative Stunden.

Man merkt Grimauds Spiel an, wie erfühlt ihre Auseinandersetzung mit dieser Musik ist. Sie hat uns etliches mitzuteilen, sie macht Mitteilung über verschiedene Seelenzustände -- die des Komponisten und ihre eigenen . . . Grimaud wird heimgesucht von der Idee kräftiger, satter Töne, von der Vorstellung fein abgestufter dynamischer Prozesse und von der Gewissheit, dass niemand sie am Klavier bändigen kann -- auch nicht die Wölfe.

In Chopins zweiter Klaviersonate . . . legt Hélène Grimaud schnelle Passagen stürmisch, regelrecht aufbegehrend und widerspenstig an.

Hélène Grimauds Spiel ist wie gewohnt von Klarheit, beeindruckendem Formbewusstsein und fulminanter Farbgebung geprägt.

. . . die lichte ekstatische Religiosität, die Rachmaninow mit der russischen Spätromantik gemein hat, [kommt] klar genug heraus, um auch ungeneigte Hörer für diesen Komponisten einzunehmen.

Hélène Grimaud ist eine entschiedene Person. Was sie macht, tut sie fanatisch . . . Abgesehen vom psychologischen Kontext dürften es nicht zuletzt die exzessiven klavieristischen Anforderungen gewesen sein, die sie reizen. Sie hat die Fingerfertigkeit, die dazu vonnöten ist; sie verfügt über die Kraft, die zumal in den Ecksätzen der Rachmaninoff-Sonate gefordert wird.

Interprète d'exception, la pianiste Hélène Grimaud révèle une fois de plus la force subtile de son jeu, mis au service d'une sensiblité panoramique.

Cette flamme est assurément celle de l'ardente rigueur qui anime tout au long du premier mouvement le jeu de Grimaud, dont l'égalité du toucher et la clarté polyphonique sont admirables, non moins que cette façon soleil voilé avec laquelle elle développe une dramaturgie secrètement habitée d'ombre et de lumière. On aime cette intensité sans dureté, le jeu profond et élastique du "Scherzo" . . . Tout l'élégance de c¿ur de l'artiste passe dans la manière extrêmement variée et nuancée qu'elle a de tisser la musique au fil d'un motif de quatre notes descendantes (véritable trame de la partition) tour à tour grave ou ironique, sentencieux ou dépressif.

Par-delà la sonorité percante et la puissance orchestrale, on admire l'énergie persuasive, la vigueur des accélérations (Hélène Grimaud s'en donne à coeur joie dans la strette du premier mouvement !) et cette variété de toucher, ces soudaines transitions entre violence et douceur, entre cri et consolation. À lui seul, l'étrange finale en témoigne, à la fois clair et bouillonnant, avec ses bribes de thèmes s'échappant d'un clavier comme en fusion . . . Sa lecture est intelligente et forte ; le tourbillon . . . est remarquablement construit.

Hélène Grimaud nous livre une Sonate "funèbre" uniformément sombre, sérieuse, austère et même âpre, d'une construction rigoureuse, d'une progression implacable . . . Elle nous offre de plus et sans conteste la plus belle gravure de la Sonate die Rachmaninov. C'est un de nos "Evénements CD" du mois.

Busque este disco . . . apasionante y sentida grabación.

La escuché por vez primera en 1991, cuando Héléne, en vez de jugar a las muñecas, tocaba música romántica. Hoy en día aquella promesa es una realidad . . . un Chopin que no envejecerá.

. . . un Chopin muy personal, antisentimental y rico de ideas . . . Con la sonata no. 2 de Rachmaninov ascendemos a un nivel interpretativo más alto en todos los aspectos.


    "Death, Where Is Thy Victory?"

Death - there's no denying it - lies at the very heart of life. The only thing that enables our consciousness to grasp this and, having endured the realization, to be liberated from it is love. Each in his own way, Chopin and Rachmaninov have meditated upon this unfathomable mystery and transfigured it with music.

There is nothing more final than death; and yet, by a striking paradox, it is only death that enables the spirit to find its way back to the central point where life regains its urgency. That urgency was tested by Chopin and Rachmaninov in the extreme with their Second Sonatas, works that open out to infinity: they are masses for the dead, recited by love itself for all who love.

What is it that makes these pieces so beautiful? For a start, the fact that one has the impression of hearing the two composers sing of their sorrow from a distance. They are singing not only of the deaths of those close to them, or even their own death: they are offering a refuge for the anxiety of everyone who is going to die. They understand that truth in music, reflecting that of all existence, comes not from simulating happiness but from defining its tragedy in a burst of flame. And thus the promise of reconciliation between time and space becomes a struggle of desperate intensity.

The dissonant chord of sorrow and life is sounded by death and can only be resolved by death. Chopin's "Funeral March" Sonata and Rachmaninov's Second Sonata let us perceive this revelation: they are masses of tenderness celebrated on the altar of death within the innermost chapel. They disclose the soul of true love, for love is the cause of great sorrow. When it is gone, all the heart can do is repeat to itself: "It once existed" and "It exists no more".

Of what, then, does their music sing? Ineffable sadness: beloved is a word written by passion and erased by fate - a frenzied hope that those who die will not have lived in vain. They disappear as themselves only to live again in the form of the eternal spirit. In the end, an appeal: passing through the whole realm of feelings, Chopin and Rachmaninov urge us to love life - in others, even to excess; to embark on a search for salvation, if there should be one; to make ourselves into new beings, kept alive by a new love. Death in Greek is "destiny", the individual portion of it that each receives as his or her share. Thus it is at once a legacy and a projection. It is the signature of our personal fate, but is also what unites us with others, what signifies that we are really only human in our own confrontation with destiny - and in our piety when faced with the death of others. It is useless to flee from death, which is by definition inexorable. What is important is to maintain the sense of defiance that it instigates by living life in the extreme.

What can this music offer us in our distress? The precarious, dissonant harmony of these works, evoking the divorce of sorrow from existence, is the sign of a cry that has found its rhythm. It prepares for death yet protects against it, because, ultimately, these works tell us so much about death that they open our eyes to an eternity within us. They convert anguish into hope, transfigure our vision of sorrow, and offer us the chance of a reconciliation. Thus they don't perpetuate grief: they undertake its relief. When this comes about, suddenly death seems like the reverse side of a music of purest essence.

Finally, it seems that the music of Chopin and Rachmaninov is filled with new things: It knows where to hide the dead, it comes on their behalf and before long we shall all be together in a meadow filled with flowers, with fruit and with music.

Hélène Grimaud
11/2004

    Chopin And Rachmaninov: Princes of The Piano

Hélène Grimaud interviewed by Michael Church

MC: What led you to record this particular programme?
HG: The piano repertoire is a little like what I imagine Africa to have been to those intrepid Victorian explorers: so vast and so rich that a pianist will sooner or later yearn to enter fabled lands where he or she has not dared to go before.

MC: All your records have had a "concept". Credo, released last year, dwelt on the 19th-century German notion of universalism. What's the concept this time?

HG: I would have to say "death and transcendence", but this CD has come about in a more spontaneous, stream-of-consciousness way than Credo did. The idea germinated in Japan, where I chanced to hear an all-Chopin recital by Maurizio Pollini. I hadn't touched Chopin since I was 17 years old. I'd played him all through my childhood and my time at the Paris Conservatoire, but then I'd stopped.
For years since, people had been telling me I should play him again, and I'd always replied that I hadn't turned my back on him, and that it was a matter of when, not if. And the thought that came into my mind as I listened to Pollini was: "Why are you depriving yourself of this music?" I found myself in a world of almost shocking immediacy and relevance. The urgency with which he conveyed Chopin's Second Sonata - his singing poignancy - rekindled the flame in me. I decided then and there to re-engage myself with the world of Chopin, and realized that the B flat minor Sonata would be a wonderful piece to pair with the Rachmaninov.

MC: So the Rachmaninov was there in your mind first?

HG: Rachmaninov's Second Sonata has been a work-in-progress throughout my life. It was the springboard that provided me with my first understanding of both the exhilaration and the responsibilities of life as an artist.

MC: When was that, more precisely?

HG: When I was 14. My father had bought me the Horowitz recording, and I was transfixed by it, and knew I had to record it too. I learned it in three weeks, and recorded it when I was 15, but never performed it again - until this year. In my teens I was a very restless, very fast learner: I would learn and play something, then quickly move on - the opposite of how I operate now, because now I tend to let things marinate, to live with pieces for an extended period of time and then have trouble leaving them behind. Coming back to that work now is like returning to a familiar landscape that's been transformed by a change of season and light, the light being different by virtue of the evolution in my own perspective.

MC: There are several versions of the Rachmaninov, and they differ radically. Which have you gone for?

HG: Well, having lived with the work privately for nearly 20 years, and having reflected on the merits of the different versions of the work since taking it into my public repertoire, I've come to this point. The first version - of 1913 - is for me about what I call psychological marasmus: being mired in darkness. But it has many digressions that are somewhat detrimental to its architecture - its proportions, the way the big arc is shaped - which is to me one of the most essential aspects of a composition. The version he rewrote in 1931 is purer in structure, more harmonious, more direct. That said, too many of the first version's "fulgurances" - the lightning flashes - were cut out in the second version. So although the text I decided on for this recording is basically the 1931 version, I've restored what to me are some very convincing passages from 1913. The physical laws of nature are present in composition, as in everything else we do - something strongly mathematical and involving harmony in the sense that some things feel right and others just don't. And I felt that it wasn't so much me deciding "I like this, so I'll reinsert itÓ: I just found myself impelled by some exterior force to restore certain passages. I was rediscovering things, not inventing them.

MC: But Horowitz made his own version. Where do you stand on that?

HG: Horowitz's recorded interpretation is absolutely brilliant, but he made choices in his version which would not be mine. But the fact that he did make his own version - and that Rachmaninov gave it his blessing - made me feel I was not necessarily being presumptuous in making my own, that I would not be committing sacrilege. And we shouldn't forget that as a touring pianist Rachmaninov was influenced by the fact that what concert presenters in the United States in the '30s and '40s thought the public wanted was very different from what audiences wanted when the piece first saw the light of day, in Russia before the Revolution and the First World War.

MC: How do you relate Rachmaninov and Chopin in terms of pianism?

HG: Very easily. You can find many good reasons for juxtaposing Chopin and Rachmaninov, two of the pre-eminent composer-pianists of music history who devoted all of their lives to the creation and performance of large bodies of work for the instrument. They are to me the two princes of the piano.

MC: Not Liszt?

HG: No, he's not a prince, he's a magician.

MC: Not Schumann?

HG: No, something to do with lacking an aristocratic quality of expression - and I don't mean inheritance or lineage and certainly not intrinsic value. I want to say a certain nobility of heart in artistic terms.

MC: Brahms?

HG: No, for the same reason. Brahms and Schumann are both of a different vein.

MC: And how do the emotional worlds of Chopin and Rachmaninov chime?

HG: Their works on this record fully reflect the theme of death and transcendence. As Anton Rubinstein observed, Chopin's work was a "poem of death" for far deeper reasons than the fact that it contains a funeral march.

MC: I don't get any feeling of death, as the last crashing cascade of notes dies away in the Rachmaninov - I get a feeling of triumph.

HG: That's the transcendence I'm talking about. Successful though he was, Rachmaninov was haunted in exile - something must have died in him when he left Russia, never to return.

MC: His first exile had been from St. Petersburg when he was twelve, and his sister had died when he was very young. He had many reasons for nostalgia.

HG: For me the sonata's first movement - like all first movements - contains its essence, and it indicates that he was plagued by his own inner dark visions. The second movement also conveys that darkness alternating with lines of pure nostalgia, its counterpoint, bittersweet but still hopeful.

MC: But the triumphant Finale?

HG: The finale is only triumphant in that it succeeds in overcoming that state of psychological marasmus and transforms faint hope into defiant vital energy and even impish humor. Finales are seldom essential in the way opening movements are - they're often celebrations of what has been said. The first movement is the core, the nucleus from which all else evolves. And this is true of Chopin's Sonata, too. His first movement reflects the revolt and supplications of a tragic struggle against hopeless destiny. His Scherzo is the menacing game of the forces of darkness at work; the Funeral March is an echo of all humanity's irrevocable pain; the Finale is like a hallucinating shiver, a glacial wind sweeping over a cemetery, taking away the souls with an inflection of regret.

MC: How do you approach that last movement technically? With Maurizio Pollini you hear every note distinct, but with Yevgeny Kissin it's just washes of colour. Is it a matter of with pedal, or without, for you?

HG: Definitely with. But that has to be a matter of gradation - it must still be clear. It may seem like a flow of magma, but it also has clear patterns.

MC: How does the Barcarolle fit into your scheme?

HG: With the Sonata and the Polonaise-Fantaisie, it's one of the most original pieces in his entire Oeuvre. It's a transfigured and idealized nocturne, while the Polonaise-Fantaisie is more like a ballade than a Polonaise. Both are highly sophisticated and stylized, but the Barcarolle feels like his swan-song - possibly the most richly charged and all-encompassing miracle he ever created, sensual and colourful, and nostalgic for something he imagined might have taken place, but never did. If you let the piece wash over you, that's what it communicates with its matchless melodies, innovative harmonies, poignant modulations and - beneath the charm and brilliance - so many deep and mysterious currents of passion, sadness and longing that speak directly to the human heart. Regret for a could-have-been. And it feels as though it's existing after death, after the flesh has dropped away.

MC: And why the Berceuse?

HG: Because of its tenderness - and tenderness is not a very common emotion in music. When the carnal envelope is gone, or at least ceases to matter, time stops, the action is over, and love takes its most unfettered form. It's a challenge, to enter that realm of stillness and inner silence when willfulness gives way to poetry.

11/2004