Monday, February 26, 2024

Pianist Hélène Grimaud Bets On The Three Bs In A Virtuoso Efficiency At Koerner Corridor


L: Hélène Grimaud (Photo: Matt Henneck): R: Hélène Grimaud in concert (Photos courtesy of Koerner Hall)
L: Hélène Grimaud (Picture: Matt Henneck): R: Hélène Grimaud in live performance (Pictures courtesy of Koerner Corridor)

Hélène Grimaud, piano. Beethoven: Sonata Op. 109. Brahms: Three Intermezzi Op. 117; Fantasien Op. 116. Bach-Busoni: Chaconne. Koerner Corridor, Feb. 11, 2024. Offered by the Royal Conservatory of Music.

“Attention-grabbing program” is an idea that may present itself in some ways. French pianist Hélène Grimaud realized the elusive superb Sunday in Koerner Corridor not by exploring the outskirts of the repertoire however by assembling a dense sequence of A-list works by the normal Three Bs.

A lot of the music was by Brahms, whose late items are most likely extra typically heard individually than in teams. Grimaud performed the seven Fantasien Op. 116 as an built-in suite, starting and ending with a vehement Capriccio in D Minor, every given the full-fingered therapy.

There have been tender Intermezzi in between, in addition to a livid Capriccio in G Minor, functioning roughly as a scherzo. I admired particularly the Intermezzo in E Minor (Op. 116 No. 5 for these scoring at dwelling). So elliptical on the floor, the nervous little pairs of quavers took on the standard of speech.

There was Brahms additionally earlier than intermission, the Three Intermezzi Op. 117, assertively finished. The lyrical first Intermezzo was taken shortly, as a lot a wakeup name as a lullaby, and the turbulent second veered near a toccata in character. The third confirmed a keenness for hesitations on upbeats.

It was, certainly, a day of ample rubato — greater than was wanted within the first motion of Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 109, with which Grimaud started the recital. Much less litter would have yielded extra readability of expression. All the identical, Grimaud captured the solemn however hopeful character of the hymnlike theme of the finale and managed the trills of the final variation impressively.

However I need to return to the second half and the Op. 116 set, which got here bundled with an unlimited pseudo-finale within the type of the Busoni association of Bach’s Chaconne, additionally in D Minor and performed after the Brahms with no break. Brahms was actually an admirer of the Chaconne, having transcribed it himself for piano left hand, however the rationale for attaching such a staggering masterpiece to his Op. 116 escapes me. We have to take a breath between Bs!

At any price, it was a virtuoso efficiency, boldly projected. Grimaud doesn’t stint on sonority. Vigorous applause ensued. The encore was Valentin Silvestrov’s tuneful (and fairly tonal) Bagatelle No. 2.

Now for some non-musical issues. On the request of the artist, lights in Koerner Corridor have been saved at a low stage that made Grimaud’s glittering outfit stand out dramatically however rendered the printed program illegible. It’s pure for listeners to wish to know what they’re listening to, particularly within the midst of a bunch of like-titled Intermezzi and Capriccios.

One other draw back to the cinematic lighting was the additional prominence the darkness gave to the few viewers members who fired up their cellphones in defiance of corridor coverage and customary courtesy. Extra vigilance by the ushers would assist.

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Arthur Kaptainis
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