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All the colors of a kaleidoscope

Hélène Grimaud’s US tour with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin wrapped up last Friday in Chicago to the cheers of “We love you!” The musicians performed a program of Brahms, Ravel, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev to ecstatic audiences in six cities, as part of the orchestra’s nine-concert North America tour.

“In the Ravel concerto (…) everybody became an extension of Grimaud. Nézet-Séguin seemed to be in her head, which is no small achievement given that she performs with a combination of spontaneity and willfulness, and for lack of a better description, uncommon musical honesty.” writes The San Diego Union-Tribune about the performance at Jacobs Music Center, and adds: “In the extended piano solo that opens the second movement, she stated the lyrical theme with disarming simplicity and directness and without a trace of sentimentality or forced emotion. And likewise, she never tried to sell the exuberance in the final movement; it was just there.”

Reviewing the San Francisco concert, Bachtrack.com agrees: “Grimaud dispatched Ravel’s intricate score with insouciant wit and clockwork precision, responding sensitively to the colourful orchestration. The exquisite second movement was one of the highlights of the concert, Grimaud achieving a mélodie-like lyricism that was utterly affecting in its restraint.”

“As soloist Grimaud seemed to appreciate that this was music in which the whole amounted to more than the sum of its parts. Thus she was always attentive to Nézet-Séguin’s conception of the whole, playing her part, so to speak, in the interest of that greater vision. The result was a reading of Ravel that sparkled with all the colors of a kaleidoscope in the outer movements, separated by the quiet introspection of the middle movement, played as a melancholy waltz in which mind remembers the steps but body is not moved to execute them.” reflects Examiner.com.

Hélène and Yannick’s dynamic collaborations were recently awarded two OPUS Prizes by the Conseil Québécois de la musique (Québec’s Music Council). Two concerts last June in which Hélène performed Brahms’ First Piano Concerto with Yannick at the helm of the Orchestre Métropolitain won in the categories ‘Concert of the Year – Romantic, Post-Romantic & Impressionist Music,’ and ‘Concert of the Year – Montreal.‘

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