Chopin, Rachmaninoff: Piano Sonatas

Chopin, Rachmaninoff: Piano Sonatas

by Hélène Grimaud
     
 

Hélène Grimaud's recordings have covered such a wide range of piano repertoire that it's a shock to realize that this disc features her first studio recording of music by Chopin. But from the darkly dramatic opening of that composer's Second Sonata, it's obvious that it was worth the wait. Grimaud'sSee more details below

Overview

Hélène Grimaud's recordings have covered such a wide range of piano repertoire that it's a shock to realize that this disc features her first studio recording of music by Chopin. But from the darkly dramatic opening of that composer's Second Sonata, it's obvious that it was worth the wait. Grimaud's performance is impetuous, emotionally vivid, and highly alert to nuances of rhythm and attack; she conveys a sense of living in the moment, hurtling toward the edge in the Scherzo, freezing time amid the onward procession of the famed "Funeral March" slow movement, and becoming ruthlessly objective in the whirlwind Finale. If longstanding quibbles persist that Chopin was more successful with small forms (nocturnes, ballades, and the like) than with the formal demands of the sonata, Grimaud's sensibility renders them irrelevant. Sergei Rachmaninoff's Second Sonata is a more daring coupling here than it may seem: These works share not only a somber tone, but also the key of B-flat Minor. Playing them back-to-back risks the effect of sameness, and most pianists would hesitate. Yet Grimaud's gambit pays off marvelously: The opening flourish of the Rachmaninoff sounds out as an answer to Chopin's Finale, resuming a conversation begun almost a century earlier. Grimaud follows the precedent of Vladimir Horowitz in creating her own version of Rachmaninoff's sonata, primarily following the composer's 1931 revision but restoring select passages from his 1913 original. There's certainly nothing to regret in Grimaud's decision, as any opportunity to linger with her amid this luxuriant music is a welcome one. So, too, is her return to Chopin at recital's end. In both the Berceuse and the Barcarolle, profound expression gradually emerges from deceptive simplicity, and Grimaud is at her most poetic as she ruminates upon these subtle marvels.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Patsy Morita
Hélène Grimaud applies her virtuoso strength and particular sense of expression to the second piano sonatas of Chopin and Rachmaninov in this 2005 recording. The idea of a life story is often attached to Chopin's "Sonata No. 2" because the character of each movement seems to paint the picture of an energetic hero, who is tragically mourned at death in the third movement Marche funèbre. In a way, as Grimaud sees it, Rachmaninov's "Piano Sonata No. 2" is also about life and death. Rachmaninov stripped material out of his original 1913 version -- the overall mood of which she calls being "mired in darkness" -- to create a more compact and sharply defined sonata in 1931. Grimaud has restored certain passages that she felt added to the emotional story of the work. These two major and well-known works are not pretty piano pieces, and in her hands, while there are tender moments, the main thrust of them is the vitality -- and often the grand size -- of the Romantic spirit that is found in life and, at least here, continues after death in a transformed state. The conclusion of the program with Chopin's "Barcarolle" and "Berceuse" -- played by Grimaud with a unique, but not unpleasant, way of phrasing the music -- follows that idea of transcendence of spirit.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/08/2005
Label:
Deutsche Grammophon
UPC:
0028947753254
catalogNumber:
000404802
Rank:
88931

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 35, CT. 202  - Frédéric Chopin  - Fred Munzmaier  - Hélène Grimaud
  2. Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, Op.36  - Sergey Rachmaninov  - Fred Munzmaier  - Hélène Grimaud
  3. Berceuse for piano in D flat major, Op. 57, CT. 7  - Frédéric Chopin  - Fred Munzmaier  - Hélène Grimaud
  4. Barcarolle for piano in F sharp major, Op. 60, CT. 6  - Frédéric Chopin  - Fred Munzmaier  - Hélène Grimaud

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