Album title:
Helene Grimaud
Piano Works
Helene Grimaud
Catalogue Number:
477 5325
BBC Music Magazine
Although there are plenty of recordings of the second piano sonatas of both these composers in the catalogue, it’s surprising that until now no pianist had the imaginative idea of coupling them. 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. For the most part, 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. This works particularly well in the first two movements of the Chopin, while in the finale, Grimaud’s judicious use of the pedal enhances the feeling of suppressed desperation that underlines the music. The Rachmaninov is likely to be more controversial on account of Grimaud’s decision to create her own performing version of the work based on the composer’s truncated 1931 revision, but also incorporating quite extensive passages from the original 1913 composition (Horowitz pursued a similar path without encountering any objections from Rachmaninov himself). In any case the expansions seem entirely plausible, serving in fact to strengthen the logical flow of the music. The performance and recording, too, are highly persuasive, though in the last resort I don’t experience quite the same level of high-octane adrenaline as in Simon Trp?eski’s astonishing performance of the 1931 version for EMI (see Disc of the Month review, p56). Erik Levi
Bach: Organ Music
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