Tuesday, February 3, 2009

First Listen: Hélène Grimaud

Today, February 3, pianist Hélène Grimaud joins the ranks of Bruce Springsteen, M. Ward and Animal Collective when NPR Music launches an Exclusive First Listen of her debut Bach album. NPR Music will offer an on-demand stream of the entire album as well as Grimaud's performance of Bach's Prelude in E major, BWV 878 as a free download until the disc is officially released on February 10. The stream and song download are both available at NPR Music. Though NPR Music has offered Exclusive First Listen pages for a variety of high-profile pop, rock and alternative artists, Grimaud's 'Bach' is the first classical album to be featured in this way.
In Hélène Grimaud's first recording of Bach's music, listeners will find repertoire and interpretation choices that reflect not simply Bach's notes, but his very perspective on the musical form. As has come to be expected of this strikingly individualistic artist, the disc is both provoking and profound. 'Bach' includes Bach's Concerto for Piano no. 1 in D minor performed with Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, a work originally intended for violin, but transcribed by Bach himself for organ and then later in the form we find here. Thus the album features Bach transcribed by Liszt, Bach transcribed by Busoni, Bach transcribed by Rachmaninov, and Bach transcribed by Bach. Each transcription is juxtaposed with a prelude and fugue in the same tonality from The Well-Tempered Clavier - in E major, A minor, and C minor - highlighting the modern composers' musical and historical perspectives while simultaneously underlining the source material.
Grimaud will tour Houston, TX; New York City, NY; La Jolla, CA; and Chicago, IL in late February and March in support of the album. Performance dates and times can be found on her website.
Hélène Grimaud was born in Aix-en Provence in the south of France in 1969. She studied with Jacqueline Courtin at the conservatory there, and subsequently in Marseille with Pierre Barbizet. At the age of 13, she was accepted by the Paris Conservatory where she won the first prize in piano in 1985. That July, immediately after graduating, Grimaud recorded Rachmaninov’s Sonata no. 2 and the complete Etudes-Tableaux op. 33 (Grand Prix du disque, 1986). She studied additionally with Gyorgy Sandor and Leon Fleisher. The year 1987 marked a turning point in her career, with appearances at MIDEM in Cannes and at the piano festival La Roque d’Anthéron, her first recital in Tokyo and Daniel Barenboim’s invitation to perform with the Orchestre de Paris. Grimaud has since performed with many of the world’s major orchestras and renowned conductors. She records exclusively for Deutsche Grammophon.

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