“Temperament and Precision”
Seenandheard.com reviews Hélène Grimaud’s Hamburg performance of Ravel’s G major Piano concerto with the Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig and Riccardo Chailly:
“Ravel’s G major piano concerto was one of his last compositions, written between 1929 and 1931, not long after Bolero and simultaneously with the piano concerto for the left hand. By Ravel’s own admission, he was not aiming for a particularly profound work but rather a “light and brilliant” one.
“Ravel had planned on playing the piano part at the concerto’s premiere in 1932. He was too ill to follow through, but well enough to conduct – perhaps an indication of the work’s virtuoso qualities .. Grimaud mastered the difficulties without any apparent effort …
“Grimaud’s unemotional approach was perfectly appropriate: when Marguerite Long, who ended up playing the piano part at the premiere, was criticized for being too cool, Ravel gave her performance his unequivocal stamp of approval. In her excellent performance, Grimaud exhibited a sure sense of dramatic tension and rhythm (even including moments of swing!). In an interview, Riccardo Chailly once stated that an interpretation should combine “temperament and precision.” Grimaud was the perfect partner for him. Her tranquil garlands in the beautiful second movement – Ravel cited the slow movement of Mozart’s clarinet concerto as his source of inspiration – and her playfulness as well as spiritedness in the breathless chase of the third movement made this an exciting, memorable performance.”