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Chopin / Rachmaninov: Piano Sonatas

Hélène Grimaud Audio CD

Price: £8.93 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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“This is one of the most intriguing yet bewildering recitals I have encountered in a long time. At her fines Hélène Grimaud is a truly remarkable artist capable of transcending the piano’s essentially percussive nature to create magical worlds of tonal half-lights and ecstatic vocal ... Read more in Amazon's Hélène Grimaud Store

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Chopin / Rachmaninov: Piano Sonatas + Corigliano / Beethoven / Pärt "Credo" + Resonances
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Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Piano Sonata No.2 In B Flat Minor, Op.35 - 1. Grave - Doppio Movimento 7:32£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Piano Sonata No.2 In B Flat Minor, Op.35 - 2. Scherzo - Più Lento - Tempo I 6:44£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Piano Sonata No.2 In B Flat Minor, Op.35 - 3. Marche Funèbre (Lento) 9:25£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Piano Sonata No.2 In B Flat Minor, Op.35 - 4. Finale (Presto) 1:37£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Piano Sonata No.2 In B Flat Minor, Op.36 - 1. Allegro Agitato 9:50£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Piano Sonata No.2 In B Flat Minor, Op.36 - 2. Non Allegro - Lento 7:25£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Piano Sonata No.2 In B Flat Minor, Op.36 - 3. Allegro Molto 5:52£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Berceuse In D Flat, Op.57 - Andante 4:51£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Barcarolle In F Sharp, Op.60 - Allegretto 8:37£0.79  Buy MP3 

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully Played. Imaginative, with Feeling 22 Sep 2006
By William C. Nee - Published on
Format:Audio CD
I'm no critic here, I won't even attempt it. But I love Chopin, and Helene Grimaud's playing is masterful. I have read the knowledgeable reviews from other's who rate this poorly. It's surprising that their ears are so narrow and their minds so tight, full of their own genius.

This is wonderfully played. A must have. The Berceuse I have played for hours and it's magical intepretation stirs me each time. The Sonata No. 2, is simply amazing. I'm not even a Rachmanioff fan, but her playing makes me want to learn his music. Buy this and expand your ears, mind, and emotions. As for the critics, sorry you didn't enjoy this. I think you missed something called listening to creative artistry and enjoying Chopin.
35 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep understanding 18 Jun 2005
By Stewart W. Wilson - Published on
Format:Audio CD
Helene Grimaud plays the structure of the piece. In this she is very unusual. In our music lessons, we learned about phrases--how that arc over some notes means to begin anew, to rise in strength, then fall back again. And maybe even how larger phrases contain smaller ones. And we remember how difficult it was to play the phrases, especially when they contained other ones. Grimaud's phrasing is incomparable. At every moment there are several phrases going: the immediate one, and all the levels above it. She tells us not only what is now, but what is ending and what is to come. Her playing has the extremely rare quality of anticipation, so that even in pieces new to us, we feel them developing, and in familiar pieces we revel in the hints and beginnings of the next idea. Sometimes the phrases are borne by different voices, and it can seem that more than one person is playing, so clear is Grimaud's articulation. She has said that she practices mainly by studying the score. This must be the secret of her music's almost incredible three-dimensionality.

In the great Chopin sonata on this record, Helene Grimaud combines her structural understanding with emotional strength and universality to achieve an interpretation that to me is substantially new and compelling. As she says in the notes, the sonata is about death, and its first movement, which she says is the heart of the work, "reflects the revolt and supplications of a tragic struggle against hopeless destiny". This seems to me exactly how she plays it. The whole movement--the phrase of the whole--is played with a driving, passionate intensity, never letting up, never denying, but still containing and letting breathe the beautiful "supplication" and noble "revolt" sub-phrases that contrast with death's relentlessly returning tocsin. The overall structure is constantly present and reinforced. Grimaud never indulges in idiosyncrasy or feeling for its own sake; she seems intent on letting the composer's idea and purpose come through, and does so using her enormous understanding and expressive power, aided, I must say, by the fabulous sound of her piano.

The rest of the sonata is equally rewarding. I would just mention how in the "Funeral March" movement, the tempo and dynamics of the march sections are almost utterly steady--surprisingly, one taps one's foot--removing all personal sentiment, as though we are seeing an historical black-and-white film. The sense of distance is complemented by the sweet, ethereal passages that interweave the march; Grimaud plays them limpidly and wonderfully slowly.

The other sonata on this disc, Rachmaninov's 2nd, is new to me and I am still "learning it" from the pianist. But her playing displays the same structural insight, anticipation, and voicing that I have mentioned, underlying her characteristically beautiful expression both in the strong passages and the gentle ones. I have all of her CDs, and a very special quality, evident here, is Grimaud's ability to be interesting wherever she is in a piece. There are no dead spots or contentless transitions: every passage always has something going on that holds interest, even fascination. In a sense she is a miniaturist in her immediate playing--I think that is the result of her deep grasp of what the piece, at every point, is saying.

The Berceuse in D flat and Barcarolle in F sharp, familiar to every listener, complete this program of Helene Grimaud's. They are beautifully rendered--the Berceuse with exceptional tenderness, the Barcarolle in all its unique originality. I give this recording five stars as a marvelous example of the work of a still relatively unknown pianist of exceptional quality whose approach and understanding and expressive power will, I believe, soon bring her recognition as one of the greatest pianists.
36 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unfocused Effort 17 April 2005
By Jeffrey G. Jones - Published on
Format:Audio CD
The concept of this album is an interesting one on the surface. Chopin's Second Sonata, which contains the world's most famous funeral march, is put alongside Rachmaninoff's Second Sonata. Each is in the same key, and they run to about the same length. The rather short CD is filled out with two popular late works by Chopin, the Berceuse and the Barcarolle. This is familiar territory for any pianist, but the arrangement is interesting.

However, this does not mean that the effort is completely successful. To put it as politely as possible, Grimaud is not a delicate, "pretty" kind of pianist. Anyone looking for that would be better served by Vasary, for example. Grimaud's sound is large; she uses dynamics which would work very well in a concert hall. She is more faithful to the score than many, and she plays accurately and powerfully. On the flip side, she can occasionally sound harsh, but the sound is never ugly, as it has been in the past. Compared with the three recent recordings of the Chopin sonata I've heard (Pompa-Baldi at the Cliburn, Moravec, and this one), this is the most exciting and most accurate, but it seems less organic and flowing than many other readings. The Rachmaninoff is a straighter imitation of a poor performance (the 1980 Horowitz recording, taken at the nadir of his career), and it has too much volume and too little impact. The Chopin Berceuse is serious and rather strange, as Grimaud suddenly and inexplicably gets very loud and passionate at a time where the opposite is expected. I wouldn't want to be the baby trying to fall asleep to this. The Barcarolle, too, is too intense. Grimaud is anxious in the languorous, elevated atmosphere of this music, and the result is too Germanic rather than Italianate.

Although my tone may seem negative based on the above paragraph, I enjoyed this CD and I can recommend it. There are better recordings available of all of this music, though. For the Chopin Sonata, there is very little to match Moravec's recent disc, and for the Barcarolle, Sofronitzky's freely improvisatory manner carries the day. It is harder to make a recommendation of the Rachmaninoff sonata, because there are more poor performances of that much-abused piece than I can count. I certainly haven't found a CD that makes me love the piece.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a talented lady.. 12 Nov 2008
By Medusa - Published on
Format:Audio CD
The discovery of this young exceptional piano talent was an experience that made my day. On this CD Helen Grimaud chose a theme of death and transcendence wonderfully presented through the music of the "two Princes of piano"; Chopin and Rachmaninov.

Piano is an instrument where development of technique does not necessarily create a gifted pianist. Helen Grimaud plays the piano with the discipline of a student, the mastery of a professional, the nuance of a feeling soul and the sensuous passion of a woman.
Ms. Grimaud's thoughts, as captured in the written explanations, on this music and other composers, demonstrate an exceptional intelligence and serious introspection about the music she plays.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chopin with a broad stroke, dramatic yet lyrical.. 27 Oct 2007
By R. Kearns - Published on
Format:Audio CD
The Chopin Sonata #2 has been played by countless pianists great and small but this recording must be placed among the great ones. Taking each movement in turn, in the first the duality of drama and lyricism is recognized fully by Grimaud and she churns up a storm of contrast in the development section. It can be stated that her playing is filled with emotion without ever becoming wayward or sentimental.

The second movement is an mini-epic poem in her hands. The Marche- funebre wonderfully phrased and sung, again with full awareness of pathos and lyricism.

The Finale: presto is played with flawless technique as though technique were not even a pre-requisite! I think it was Liszt who pictured the wind blowing through the graveyard as a way to imagine this movement..whatever one imagines Grimaud blows up quite a dust storm here.

Linking the Rachmaninov 2nd Sonata to Chopin's 2nd, both being in B flat minor, and coincidentally having opus numbers one digit apart! seems almost a superficial pairing. But I will accept the idea that there is more to it than that as Grimaud explains:"Rachmaninov was haunted in exile-something must have died in him when he left Russia, never to return". Death and transcendance...well seems good to me!

At any rate the "Rach 2" as realized here is again juxtaposition of powerful melodic themes with the dramatic and she again seems to separate and blend them at will and with purpose. This is broadly sweeping music played without mannerisms or superficiality. The 'trancendence' at the end is not gained without tears!

The lovely Berceuse, Op 57 is one of the lone musical gems Chopin left for us..a set of variations on a theme above a lilting ostinato. Here, though she plays with a lovely tone and precice fingers, I find her interpretation lacking in magic and a bit too 'metrical'.

The final offering on the program is the wonderful Barcarolle one of Chopin's late great works following his 3rd Sonata. Grimaud's playing here is satisfying and accomplished but I did not feel it to be on the level of, say Rubinstein or Lipati, but that is a very minor criticism!

The piano is well recorded clear but resonant, refined but warm. A wonderful recording in every respect!
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