Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Alchemy and Pathos "Helene Grimaud Plays Chopin Rachmaninov"

Pathos and Alchemy as twins are the leitmotif of the 2005 Deutschegrammophon recording "Helene Grimaud Chopin Rachmaninov." In this CD Helene Grimaud plays the Piano Sonata no. 2 of both composers and explores musical intertextuality within and between the composers. This beauty intermingled with the colors of pathos and alchemy is a lush, colorful, whirlpool of profound sound complemented by extreme virtuosity.

Grimaud's performance is as edgy as it is provocative in that her interpretation of the music is a fuse to light primal, human feelings. It's not surprising that musical conformists are threatened by her work; which is as intellectual and deliberate as it is emotionally rich. The use of leitmotif as a musical or literary strategy goes back to Greek mythology and dramas. Anyone who has read Helene Grimaud's book, "Wild Harmonies" will be aware that myth-speak is her opus.

The postmortem dialog of this recording between Chopin and Rachmaninov, delivers the listening audience to uncharted territories within. And there Helene Grimaud leaves them to find their own way out of the necropolis and to define their experience. As a poet I experience this recording as a text within texts and the point of transformation occurs by integration of the resulting cognitive dissonance. In short, this gorgeous music results in catharsis and deeper experience of self. And- this is what all great art or alchemy is about.

Most of the great composers have an amazing poetic capacity and I see that quality in Helene Grimaud and have an intuition that she may surprise us suddenly with compositions of her own. We can only dream....

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