On 27 September Deutsche Grammophon celebrates a decade of recording with Hélène Grimaud as an exclusive artist with the release of her new album featuring Brahms’ Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2.
Already hailed in the current issue of Gramophone magazine for her “monumental” performance of “emotional depth,” these are works which are particularly close to the pianist’s heart – a mount Everest in the classical piano repertoire which Grimaud has recorded with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Andris Nelsons.
Brahms wrote these iconic works with a distance of 22 years between the two. Whilst the 1st Concerto embodies a young man – hopeful, passionate and full of the energy of life, the 2nd was written when the composer was nearing 50 years old. As Hélène Grimaud comments: “To perform the 1st Concerto is to be absorbed into the very drama of the young composer’s life. The 2nd Concerto is like a vast memoir – a tender, mellifluous meditation.” And whilst Grimaud has extensively performed and recorded the 1st concerto throughout her career, it took her nearly as long as it took Brahms to write the 2nd concerto for her to gain an understanding and love for the work. “I was very wary of it. It was as if I were observing both the work and myself in relation to it. There was a distance between us that wasn’t conducive to a truly successful outcome. I learned it, performed it twice, then said to myself, ‘well, mission accomplished, that’s enough for now’.” Another five years went by before she felt irresistibly drawn to go back to the 2nd Concerto, and this time to embrace it fully, without reservations. And as she embarked on this new relationship, she also began to feel a similar urge to revisit the 1st. The thought of one without the other, of recording the 2nd without the 1st resurfacing, had become inconceivable.
Over the coming months Hélène Grimaud will be performing both of Brahms’ piano concertos throughout Europe, Japan and the United States. Meanwhile she will launch the album release with personal appearances in Paris, Berlin and London in early October on radio, tv and in-store. Audiences in Germany can hear her perform live on ZDF Moma and NDR’s 3 Nach 9 on Friday 4th October and apply for tickets to hear her live in discussion at Apple Store, Kurfürstendamm in Berlin on Saturday 5th October.
Visit the album website to experience Hélène Grimaud’s world of Brahms.