The Messenger Hélène Grimaud

Cover The Messenger

Album info



Label: Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Genre: Classical

Subgenre: Concertos

Artist: Hélène Grimaud

Composer: Valentin Silvestrov (1937), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Album including Album cover Booklet (PDF)

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  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791):
  • 1Fantasia No. 3 in D Minor, K. 39705:47
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466:
  • 2Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466: I. Allegro (Cadenza Beethoven)13:53
  • 3Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466: II. Romance09:01
  • 4Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466: III. Rondo. Allegro assai (Cadenza Beethoven)07:33
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466:
  • 5Fantasia No. 4 in C Minor, K. 47511:37
  • Valentin Silvestrov (b. 1937):
  • 6The Messenger (For Piano and Strings)10:27
  • Valentin Silvestrov: Two Dialogues with Postscript
  • 7Valentin Silvestrov: Two Dialogues with Postscript: I. Wedding Waltz04:59
  • 8Valentin Silvestrov: Two Dialogues with Postscript: II. Postlude03:02
  • 9Valentin Silvestrov: Two Dialogues with Postscript: III. Morning Serenade02:50
  • Valentin Silvestrov:
  • 10The Messenger (For Piano Solo)09:37
  • Total Runtime01:18:46

Info for The Messenger

It’s been nine and ten years respectively since Hélène Grimaud made her only two Mozart recordings. One might almost think there simply hasn’t been room for his music in her multifaceted repertoire, and the pianist does confess that her younger self found the “lightness of being” she associated with his piano works unfulfilling. Now, however, for her latest concept album The Messenger, she has created a pianistic dialogue between Mozart and the Ukrainian-born contemporary composer Valentin Silvestrov.

“I was always interested in couplings that were not predictable, in unusual combinations, because I feel as if certain pieces – even sometimes pieces by different composers – can shed a special light on to one another.” (Hélène Grimaud)

The recording sessions took place at the start of this year at an historic Mozart site in Salzburg, the Great Hall of the University, where Grimaud was joined by the Camerata Salzburg. The album includes three works by Mozart: the unfinished Fantasia in D minor K 397, the famous Piano Concerto in D minor K 466 and the Fantasia in C minor K 475. Presented in chronological order of composition, not only is each piece more structurally and dramatically complex than the one before, but all three are among the relatively small number of works in Mozart’s vast output written in minor keys. Grimaud sees his use of the minor as suggestive of “confrontations with fate or destiny”. She now appreciates that there is more to his writing than Apollonian elegance and restraint, noting that it took her “many years of inner cultivation to fully recognise those burning, unpredictable currents rippling beneath the transcendental beauty”.

Valentin Silvestrov’s The Messenger – 1996 offers both a response to and an echo of Mozart’s music – this idea of acknowledging and paying tribute to what has gone before is central to his art as a composer. As musicologist Dorothea Redepenning has noted, the Ukrainian’s music takes the stylistic materials of earlier periods and places them in a fresh context, renewing them through twentieth-century compositional procedures.

Written in memory of his late wife, Larissa Bondarenko, Silvestrov’s score establishes a connection between the world that once existed and the present day. Grimaud has chosen to record both a solo and an orchestral version of this profoundly melancholy piece of writing, in which Mozartean motifs abound, and her lingering interpretations seem to capture the spirit of the composer’s grief-filled memories. She performs the other Silvestrov work included here – Two Dialogues with Postscript (2001-02), whose music has echoes of both Schubert and Wagner – with a kind of restrained intensity.

Silvestrov has likened the role played by the composer to that of “a damper pedal on a piano”, a filter that takes something from existing music and transforms it. Similarly, Grimaud sees her role “as that of a medium, a channel between composer and public”. With this latest album, however, she is reflecting both on herself as an artist and on a world in flux. “If Silvestrov is a remembrance of things past,” she says, “Mozart reaches for what yet may come.” The music she interprets on The Messenger reminds us of one of life’s great possibilities – that of change.

Helene Grimaud, piano
Camerata Salzburg

Hélène Grimaud - Pianist
A truly multi-faceted and charismatic artist – for pianist Hélène Grimaud music is a limitless passion. Hélène regularly appears with the most important orchestras in the world, playing with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Philharmonia Orchestra and Münchner Philharmoniker, as well as all the great orchestras in North America. She has performed with three generations of conductors, including Kurt Masur, Bernard Haitink, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Neeme Järvi, Pierre Boulez, Ricardo Chailly, Valery Gergiev, Vladimir Jurowski, Fabio Luisi and Andris Nelsons. She was soloist at the Last Night of the BBC Proms 2008.

An ardent and committed chamber musician, Hélène Grimaud performs regularly in the most prestigious festivals and cultural capitals with a wide range of collaborators including Thomas Quasthoff, Rolando Villazòn, Jan Vogler, Truls Mørk, Clemens Hagen and the Capuçon brothers. In 2009 she performed hugely successful debut recitals in China and Korea and further concerts in Europe. In 2010 she appeared as Artiste Etoile in four concerts at the Lucerne Festival. An international recital tour encompassing Europe, USA and Japan dominated her 2010/11 season with repertoire ranging from Mozart to Bartòk. In between recitals Hélène Grimaud has performed regularly in concert throughout the season – in Moscow with Myung-Whun Chung and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, in St Petersburg with Valery Gergiev and the Kirov Orchestra, in Beijing with David Zinman and the China National Symphony Orchestra, in Germany with the Munich Philharmonic and Christian Thielemann and in the States with both the San Francisco Symphony and Philadelphia Orchestras. This summer she appears at leading European festivals including Beethovenfest Bonn and the London Proms.

Highlights of this autumn include a European tour with the Orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia and Antonio Pappano, a week-long Paris residency in November entitled Domaine Privé and a further Paris concert with the London Symphony Orchestra and Valery Gergiev. In March 2012 Hélène Grimaud returns to perform with the Vienna Philharmonic for concerts with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and in April she joins the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons for performances in Munich.

An exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist since 2002, Hélène is one of DG’s most important recording artists with a string of imaginative and highly successful discs. This autumn she releases her debut of Mozart ‘s Piano Concertos No.19 and No.23 with Kammerorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, the disc also features a collaboration with singer Mojca Erdmann on a recording of Mozart’s ’Ch’io mi scordi di te? KV 505’. Her most recent release, Resonances, features music by Mozart, Berg, Liszt and Bartok. Previous DG recordings include Bach’s solo and concerto works in which she directed Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen from the keyboard, and a Beethoven disc with Staatskapelle Dresden and Vladimir Jurowski, ‘Reflection’ and ‘Credo’ (both of which feature a number of works linked thematically), and a Chopin and Rachmaninov Sonatas disc. Hélène also features on two recent DVD releases: 2010 ECHO Klassik award winning DVD of Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto with Claudio Abbado and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, and Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major with Vladimir Jurowski and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.

Recipient of numerous awards worldwide, in 2009 Hélène Grimaud received the Musikfest Bremen Award. She has been appointed ‘Officier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ by the French Ministère de la Culture in 2002 and ‘Chevalier dans l’Ordre National du Mérite’ in 2008. In 2004 she received a ‘Victoire d’honneur’ at the Victoires de la Musique and in 2005 she won the ECHO ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’ Award. Author of two very successful books, “Variations Sauvages” and “Leçons Particulières”, she champions many charitable causes, including the Wolf Conservation Center which she founded in upper New York State in 1999, the International Children’s Camp Villa San Souci, the Worldwide Fund for Nature and Amnesty International.

Date Last Edited: 30th September 2011

Booklet for The Messenger

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