Credo

Credo

by Hélène Grimaud
     
 

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This program is not such a hodgepodge as it first appears to be. In fact, it's a brilliantly creative concept album. Beethoven forms the core, with rip-roaring performances of his well-known "Tempest" Sonata, Op. 31 No. 2, and the Choral Fantasy -- the latter a cross between a concerto and a cantata that looks forward to the grand finale of the Ninth Symphony.

Overview

This program is not such a hodgepodge as it first appears to be. In fact, it's a brilliantly creative concept album. Beethoven forms the core, with rip-roaring performances of his well-known "Tempest" Sonata, Op. 31 No. 2, and the Choral Fantasy -- the latter a cross between a concerto and a cantata that looks forward to the grand finale of the Ninth Symphony. The disc begins with Fantasia on an Ostinato by the contemporary American composer John Corigliano (who wrote the soundtracks for Altered States and The Red Violin), a minimalist-like set of variations on the Allegretto from the Seventh Symphony. And it closes with another contemporary work, the Credo by Arvo Pärt, which, like the Beethoven Fantasy, adds a prominent solo piano part to the traditional choral/orchestral texture. Interestingly, both the Corigliano and the Pärt pieces are atypical; this is Corigliano's only foray into minimalism, and the Pärt contains raucous, improvised passages that are a far cry from the kind of spare, mystical writing he is known for. Tying this all together is Hélène Grimaud, who plays all four works with passion and élan. A pianist of audacious verve, she also has a questing, reflective mind, and both of these aspects of her musical personality are on display here. Compare the kinetic energy of the Corigliano and the outer movements of the "Tempest" Sonata, for instance, with the rapt performance of the sonata's Adagio, or the utter calm with which she sings the Bach prelude that Pärt quotes in his Credo. The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Choir provide full-toned, often gutsy support under the direction of another intrepid musician, Esa-Pekka Salonen. This is not a CD for relaxing background listening. Indeed, it seems to demand a thoughtful response from the listener. And maybe that's just what classical music needs nowadays.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Leonard
"Credo" by Hélène Grimaud is one of the most effectively sequenced discs ever released. The movement from the hazy postmodernism of John Corigliano's "Fantasia on an Ostinato for solo piano" and the passionate Romanticism of Beethoven's "Tempest Sonata" for solo piano, then on through the Enlightenment ecstasy of Beethoven's "Choral Fantasia" for piano solo, orchestra, and chorus, and culminating in the nihilist excesses of Arvo Pärt's massive "Credo for piano solo, orchestra, and chorus," is musically and dramatically overwhelming. Individually, the effectiveness of her performances is debatable. Is her Corigliano "Fantasia" melancholy and pensive or slightly narcissistic? Is her Beethoven "Tempest" individualistically radical or almost eccentric? Is her Beethoven "Choral Fantasia" with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Swedish Radio Choir brilliantly postmodern or just strange? And is Grimaud and Salonen's Pärt "Credo" anything but a metaphor for life itself: mostly boring, sometimes unbearable, and occasionally very beautiful? Taken all together as a single aesthetic act, Grimaud's "Credo" is nevertheless completely compelling while it's happening, and what more can one ask of a work of art? Deutsche Grammophon's sound has never been more translucent and immediate.
New York Times - Steve Smith
With "Credo," [Hélène Grimaud] offers a rich and engrossing recital program in which each component meaningfully touches on and amplifies aspects of the others.
Gramophone - Rob Cowan
An imaginative concept, this, convincingly realised.... The principal value of a program such as this [lies in] the possibilities it opens up, the potential for listening creatively. It's worth hearing for that reason alone, though the performances also warrant attention on their own terms.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/13/2004
Label:
Deutsche Grammophon
UPC:
0028947176923
catalogNumber:
000173202
Rank:
169155

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Fantasia on an Ostinato, for piano  - John Corigliano  - Fred Munzmaier  - Hélène Grimaud
  2. Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor ("Tempest"), Op. 31/2  - Ludwig van Beethoven  - Fred Munzmaier  - Hélène Grimaud
  3. Fantasia for piano, chorus, and orchestra ("Choral Fantasy"), Op. 80  - Ludwig van Beethoven  - Esa-Pekka Salonen  - Lone Larsen  -  Swedish Radio Choir  -  Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra  - Fred Munzmaier  - Christoph Kuffner  - Hélène Grimaud
  4. Credo, for piano, chorus & orchestra  - Arvo Pärt  - Esa-Pekka Salonen  - Lone Larsen  -  Swedish Radio Choir  -  Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra  - Fred Munzmaier  - Hélène Grimaud

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