Classical Review: Helene Grimaud

French pianist Grimaud gave a breathtaking performance of Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1.

January 11, 2012 21:30
1 minute read.

FRENCH PIANIST Helene Grimaud 311. (photo credit: Courtesy of


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French pianist Helene Grimaud, the soloist in the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert last week, gave a breathtaking performance of Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1.

Grimaud’s playing is a rare combination of utmost sensitivity and electrifying, forceful expression. Discreet flexibility, such as a noticeable yet never exaggerated slowing down to give weight to passages that seem to ask for it, breathed life into her rendition.

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Melodious motifs, especially in the slow movement, were sung on the piano and caressed with loving attention. There were no swallowed or superfluous notes; an impeccable transparency reigned even in the fastest, breakneck passages. The final movement brought the work to an exciting conclusion, creating an impression of freshness, as though the audience was hearing this popular work for the first time.

Brahms was preceded by a routine performance of Mozart’s Six German Dances and Symphony No. 39.

Conductor Manfred Honeck placed emphasis on accuracy and strictness, at the expense of charm and elegance. Even though Mozart may not have intended these pieces to be actually danced to, even virtual dancing was made impossible by the velocity and rigidity of the performance.

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