Notes and Editorial Reviews
Helene Grimaud was 19 when her coupling of Schumann’s Kreisleriana and Brahms’s F sharp minor Sonata prompted me to hail her as “one of the most welcome newcomers to the CD catalogue for many moons” (Denon, 9/89). So it’s good to find that, six years on, her playing has lost none of its spontaneous freshness and grace. Again here I sensed an intuitive understanding of the music’s message as well as a wholly natural-sounding joy in communication – with her fellow musicians no less than her listeners.
Such is her immediacy of response to every change of mood in the opening Allegro affettuoso of Schumann’s concerto that some listeners may think it a little too excitable – at the expense of maturer composure and poise (the
Beckmesser in me did wonder if a few passing ritenutos were marginally overstretched, as at 1'56'', 2'19'' and 3'29'' in the first track). But never in this movement, nor in a finale of unflagging vitality and joie de vivre, is there any hint of mere keyboard display. You could certainly never hope to hear the first movement’s nostalgic main theme played with a more eloquent simplicity. Piano and orchestra are in exceptionally close accord throughout, and not least in the intimate conversational exchanges of the Andantino grazioso. I only wish Zinman had allowed the first violins to soar more radiantly in their glorious four-bar ending to its middle section (from about 3'00'' in track 2).
Written when Strauss was a mere 22, the Burleske cries out for youthful virtuosity, volatility, caprice and charm – which we’re given here with effortless fluency by all concerned. In what could vaguely be described as lyrical ‘second subject’ territory (from the start of track 5, tranquillo) I particularly enjoyed those amazing pre-echoes of irresistibly seductive, smiling (con amore) things-to-come a quarter of a century later in Der Rosenkavalier. The Erato sound is clear-cut rather than lusciously cushioned, but never hard-edged: it falls agreeably on the ear.
-- Joan Chissell, Gramophone [2/1996]
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Piano in A minor, Op. 54 by Robert Schumann
Hélène Grimaud (Piano)
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Written: 1841-1845; Germany
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