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Credo / Hélène Grimaud, Esa-pekka Salonen, Swedish Radio


Release Date: 01/13/2004 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 000173202   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  John CoriglianoLudwig van BeethovenArvo Pärt
Performer:  Hélène Grimaud
Conductor:  Esa-Pekka Salonen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swedish Radio Symphony OrchestraSwedish Radio Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Hélene Grimaud certainly takes herself seriously, though not without reason. A self-proclaimed fan of German Romanticism, she contributes a booklet note saturated with 19th century Weltschmerz that asks the philosophical question: "Why does music exist if not to help the most wretched, to offer salvation in the direct circumstances, to restore the heart that has been lost?" The answer of course is that music exists first and foremost to entertain. If it does that other stuff, provide gravy on the turkey so to speak, then so be it, but whatever her personal motivations as a musician I doubt that CD shoppers will be purchasing this disc to alleviate their feelings of wretchedness, find salvation, or restore their lost hearts. Read more They will buy it because it's great fun, beautifully played, and a very cleverly assembled program that offers more than the sum of its highly diverse parts.


There are all sorts of correspondences, musical and otherwise, that confer unity on this eclectic mix of works. John Corigliano's Fantasia, given a smashing performance by Grimaud that milks every ounce of poetry and mystery from its quieter moments, is based on the Allegretto of Beethoven's Seventh (just as Pärt's Credo quotes Bach). Both Beethoven's Choral Fantasy and Pärt's Credo are written for the unusual combination of piano, chorus, and orchestra, and both in their different ways seek to bring order from chaos (or in musical terms contrast "improvisation" with "composed" music). The odd man out here (conceptually at least) is Beethoven's Tempest Sonata, in which Grimaud finds similar qualities via its supposed inspiration in Shakespeare's eponymous play, though that strikes me as a bit of a stretch. In any case, it takes no special pleading to include two works by the same composer, and its inclusion makes for a thoughtful and attractive concept album that not incidentally keeps the focus squarely on Grimaud. DG was right to give her this chance in her debut album for the label to demonstrate what makes her special among pianists active today.


Both the Choral Fantasy and Credo receive very fine performances, the Beethoven not quite as thrilling as Kissin/Abbado (currently in DG's complete edition), but full of gusto in the opening cadenza, and with fine (if brief) contributions from the choir, unnamed soloists, and orchestra under Salonen. The Pärt is even better. It works very well laid out for these forces and shows Grimaud comfortable within the context of an ensemble in which she is not always the main focus of attention. Even so, her entrance toward the end with the opening Prelude of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier truly does steal the show. It's a magical moment. The Tempest Sonata gets an exciting reading that shows why Grimaud feels such kinship with the German school. She realizes the stormy drama of the first movement with real enthusiasm, though I would have liked a little bit more dynamic sensitivity in the first movement's main theme: the alternations between forte and piano could be greater and thus generate even more tension. The central adagio sings eloquently, with its quiet drumbeats deftly touched in. Perhaps the finale comes off best of all, with the quiet section after measure 320 particularly touching.


The sonics in the big works with chorus and orchestra (captured live) are very well balanced and vivid. In the solo piano pieces, Grimaud's instrument has a tendency to sound hard in fortissimo, not to my mind entirely a function of her uninhibited willingness to attack the keyboard, as her quiet playing is both lovely and sensitively nuanced. In conclusion, this is an important label debut album by an artist of great intelligence and communicative gifts, and I recommend it not just to the wretched, the damned, and the heartsick, but also to the happy and comparatively well-adjusted--if any are out there, of course.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Fantasia on an Ostinato by John Corigliano
Performer:  Hélène Grimaud (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985; USA 
Date of Recording: 09/2003 
Venue:  Sveriges Radio, Stockholm, Sweden 
Length: 12 Minutes 4 Secs. 
2. Sonata for Piano no 17 in D minor, Op. 31 no 2 "Tempest" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Hélène Grimaud (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1802; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/2003 
Venue:  Sveriges Radio, Stockholm, Sweden 
Length: 21 Minutes 58 Secs. 
3. Fantasia in C minor, Op. 80 "Choral Fantasy" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Hélène Grimaud (Piano)
Conductor:  Esa-Pekka Salonen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Swedish Radio Chorus
Period: Classical 
Written: 1808; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/2003 
Venue:  Sveriges Radio, Stockholm, Sweden 
Length: 19 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Language: German 
4. Credo by Arvo Pärt
Performer:  Hélène Grimaud (Piano)
Conductor:  Esa-Pekka Salonen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Swedish Radio Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1968; Estonia 
Date of Recording: 09/2003 
Venue:  Live  Sveriges Radio, Stockholm, Sweden 
Length: 15 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Language: Latin 

Sound Samples

Fantasia On An Ostinato
Piano Sonata No.17 In D Minor, Op.31 No.2 -"Tempest": 1. Largo - Allegro
Piano Sonata No.17 In D Minor, Op.31 No.2 -"Tempest": 2. Adagio
Piano Sonata No.17 In D Minor, Op.31 No.2 -"Tempest": 3. Allegretto
Fantasia For Piano, Chorus And Orchestra In C Minor, Op.80: 1. Adagio
Fantasia For Piano, Chorus And Orchestra In C Minor, Op.80: 2. Finale: a) Allegro - Meno allegro - Allegro molto - Adagio ma non troppo - Marcia, assai vivace
Credo For Piano Solo, Mixed Choir And Orchestra

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