Performer: Helene Grimaud
Orchestra: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Jesus Lopez-Cobos
Composer: Fryderyk Chopin, Franz Liszt, Sergey Rachmaninov, Maurice Ravel, Robert Schumann, Johanes Brahms
Number of Discs: 5 CD box set
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Brilliant Classics
Size: 899 MB
1. 1. Moderato
2. 2. Adagio sostenuto
3. 3. Allegro scherzando
4. 1. Allegramente
5. 2. Adagio assai
6. 3. Presto
1. 1. Allegro agitato
2. 2. Non allegro
3. 3. L’istesso tempo – Allegro molto
4. Nr. 1 f-moll
5. Nr. 2 C-Dur
6. Nr. 3 c-moll
7. Nr. 4 d-moll
8. Nr. 5 es-moll
9. Nr. 6 Es-Dur
10. Nr. 7 g-moll
11. Nr. 8 cis-moll
12. Prelude b-moll op. 32 Nr. 2
13. Prelude cis-moll op. 32 Nr. 12
1. Ballade Nr. 1 g-moll op. 23
2. Fantasia quasi sonata (Apr?s une lecture de Dante)
3. 1. Introduzione: Un poco adagio – Allegro vivace
4. 2. Aria
5. 3. Scherzo e intermezzo: Allegrissimo
6. 4. Finale: Allegro un poco maestoso
1. 1. Ausserst bewegt
2. 2. Sehr innig und nicht zu rasch
3. 3. Sehr aufgeregt
4. 4. Sehr langsam
5. 5. Sehr lebhaft
6. 6. Sehr langsam
7. 7. Sehr rasch
8. 8. Schnell und spielend
9. 1. Allegro non troppo, ma energico
10. 2. Andante con espressione
11. 3. Scherzo: Allegro
12. 4. Finale: Introduzione – Allegro non troppo e rubato
1. 1. Allegro maestoso
2. 2. Andante espressivo
3. 3. Scherzo: Allegro energico
4. 4. Intermezzo: Andante molto
5. 5. Finale: Allegro moderato ma rubato
6. 1. Intermezzo a-moll
7. 2. Intermezzo A-Dur
8. 3. Ballade g-moll
9. 4. Intermezzo f-moll
10. 5. Romanze F-Dur
11. 6. Intermezzo es-moll
Not just exceptional piano playing for a teen-ager – exceptional piano playing, period.
Brilliant Classics, a cheapo-cheapo label based in the Netherlands, has licensed from Denon the five recordings which launched Helene Grimaud’s career, and marketed them at a price which makes them a steal. Miss Grimaud was 15 when she recorded the first of these five, the Rachmaninoff collection, in 1985, comprising his second piano sonata (in Horowitz’ abridged edition) and a selection of Etude-Tableaux, plus two Preludes. She went on with Schumann (1st piano sonata in 1987, Kreisleriana in ’88), Chopin (1st Ballade) and Liszt (Dante Sonata – both in ’87), Brahms (second piano sonata in ’88 followed by third piano sonata and Klavierstücke opus 118 in ’91), and it was all topped-off, in 1992, by the concerto recordings: Ravel’s G major and Rachmaninoff’s 2nd, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted bu Jesus Lopez-Cobos. She then moved own to Erato, and now DG – and that was it for Denon.
So these discs span the 7 first years of her recording career, and it is not easy stuff that she tackled either. These are among the most daunting compositions of the piano repertoire, not only technically but also musically.
It would be unfair to Miss Grimaud to say that these are astounding recordings for a 15-to-22 year-old girl. These are astounding recordings, period. Throughout she displays unflinching muscularity, gripping rhythmic bite, magnificent control of the long line and the succession of variegated moods, from drama to lyricism, and admirable attention to the inside voicing and complexities of contrapuntal writing. All these recordings are not just fine visiting cards for a fledgling pianist – they are equal to the best. Brilliant as reissued the Denon discs as they were originally, short timings and all – the Rachmaninoff is 44 minutes long and the longest of the five is under the hour – but given the price and the excellence of piano playing it is still a bargain.
Miss Grimaud is now in the public’s eye almost more for her infatuation with wolves than for her pianistic skills – and the Brilliant release surfs on the wave, albeit with some discretion, by the choice of its cover art. But judging from these recordings, one suspects that this kind of claptrap is almost detrimental to her cause. The wolf hype would easily lead you to think that some wise-axxed PR was trying to make up by that tacky attention-catcher for what her mere pianism was unable to achieve. Not so. Miss Grimaud’s pianistic and musical gifts can amply stand on their own. Let the wolves howl, and hats off to the pianist.
Brilliant Label, Brilliant Artiste!
Helene Grimaud, known for her evocative and highly musical pianism, recorded these works for Denon during the mid 80s to early 90s, when she was still in her late teens through her early 20s. But such is not a barrier to music making, for her musical artistry is one with maturity and thought.
Particularly impressive was Chopin Ballade No.1. Through her technical wizardry, Grimaud executed the well-known ballade with exquisite charm, like a polished gem. Her presto con fuoco is one to behold, driving the piece to its climatic conclusion and leaving the listener almost breathless by the end of it.
Other works in this brilliant (no pun intended) set includes Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No.2 and Sonata No.2, Ravel Piano Concerto, a selection of Brahms piano pieces, many of which has been re-recorded with Erato label in the mid 90s.
If you are a big fan of Grimaud, hesitate no further.