It is increasingly becoming the norm to publish classical albums under a motto rather than under the composer or composers whose works are gathered together on the albums. This also applies to the prominent jubilee Beethoven in 2020, whose works will be subordinated to a motto in order to attract buyers who would otherwise not want to buy another Beethoven work. It is therefore hardly surprising that performers, such as the pianist Hélène Grimaud, once marketed as a wolf Whisperer, are also jumping on this bandwagon. This undoubtedly great artist has, God knows, more substantial things to offer than interpretations marketed under a more or less pertinent motto. This is not changed by her statement, which she added to the album The Messenger, that the pianist does not need a motto: "I have always been interested in putting together works in a way that is not expected, because I feel that pieces cast a special light on each other". There is nothing wrong with that, although every concert and every album that is worth something requires a more or less exciting or coherent compilation.
The Messenger could also come under the name of the composer to whom this album is dedicated, at least in terms of its weighty content. We are talking about Amadeus Mozart, whose unfinished Fantasy KV 397, the famous Piano Concerto KV 466 with the Camerata Salzburg and his Fantasy KV 475 form the core of the album. The album also includes a work by contemporary Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov, which is a dialogue with the Salzburg genius and, like the album, is entitled The Messenger. A little bit much of an honor for a reminiscence of Mozart, even if the Silvestrov composition is heard here both in the version for solo piano and in a version for string orchestra, realized by the Camerata Salzburg and for piano. From Silvestrov further compositions are added: two Dialogues with an Afterword and three smaller piano pieces with distant echoes of Mozart, Schubert and Wagner.
Hélène Grimaud has discovered Valentin Silvestrov for some time now, and is obviously busy making this composer, who also integrates electronically generated sounds into his works, better known in the western world. And this is what she does on her latest album with full pianistic commitment, whose energy is reflected in the Camerata's playing.
Mozart is not exactly often on the French pianist's playing schedule. Her approach to Mozart's rather rare minor key compositions, as found on The Messenger, are characterised by extreme clarity, by "Clarté" of the French kind, which is unforgotten as the trademark of her compatriot Robert Casadesus.
The Messenger is a must-have for the French pianist's worldwide fan base and a pleasing new publication for all those who cannot get enough of piano works by the Salzburg master in an excellent playing culture.
Helene Grimaud, piano