Woodlands And Beyond… / Helene Grimaud
Together with photographer Mat Hennek, French star pianist Hélène Grimaud, comes up with a multimedia concert project at the Grand Hall of Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie. Grimaud’s virtuous piano performance is accompanied by Hennek’s highly praised photo series “Woodlands”, which depicts genuine portraits of trees, Grimaud’s piano recital includes works by romantic and impressionistic composers. They are connected by seven “Transitions”, written exclusively for Grimaud by British composer and DJ Nitin Sawhney. The motives of Hennek’s Woodlands series create an extraordinary visual backdrop, which in combination with Grimaud´s pianistic “impeccable clarity and articulation” (Hamburger Abendblatt) and the Elbphilharmonie’s splendid acoustics grants a concert experience of a special kind.
Grimaud is a pianist ideally suited for the repertoire included in this program. She possesses a prodigious technique, the ability to evoke a broad palette of instrumental colors, and a patrician sense of phrasing. Grimaud can also summon a prodigiously focused and powerful sonority in the grand climaxes. The artistic level of this collaborative recital is of a very high order.
My only reservation concerns the manner of the recitals visual documentation on the Blu-ray DVD production. A member of the 2017 Elbphilharmonie audience was afforded the opportunity to view the projections of Hennek’s photos at all times during Grimaud’s concert. This comports with the collaborative venture’s artistic mission, as explained in Karina Saligmann’s liner notes: “a delicate symbiosis of Grimaud’s brilliant and imaginative keyboard virtuosity and Hennek’s poetic, abstract impressions of nature.” On the DVD production, that joint and complementary perspective is infrequently conveyed (at least, not in unison). Instead, we see frequent closeups of Grimaud at the keyboard, with the photos reproduced in more sporadic fashion. I certainly can understand the director’s approach. Grimaud is a superb artist and a charismatic performer. But I would have enjoyed the opportunity to experience the juxtaposition of the recital’s musical and visual components throughout. I suspect my personal reaction to this element will not find universal agreement, but I feel compelled to offer it. Both the video and audio quality of the Blu-ray DVD are superb.
Catalog Number: 755408
Label: C Major