Hélène Grimaud

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About Hélène Grimaud

French pianist Hélène Grimaud has progressed from impulsive precociousness to mature reflection, a journey embodied in a large number of recordings. She was born in 1969 in Aix-en-Provence, and began learning the piano at the age of eight, making meteoric progress. She went to the Paris Conservatoire aged 13, and against the advice of her teachers entered the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1986, where she reached the semi-final. She made her first recording in 1985, of solo Rachmaninoff, and by the time Deutsche Grammophon signed her in 2002, she had a substantial catalog. These early recordings—including concerto collaborations with David Zinman, Kurt Masur, and Vladimir Ashkenazy—showcase an ebullient, at times dangerously passionate temperament. Her 1999 Beethoven album, coupling the Piano Concerto No. 4 (1806) with headstrong accounts of two late piano sonatas, may divide opinion but is highly charismatic. The recordings for DG brought a move to mixed-repertoire albums, often time-traveling dialogs between “themed” works, such as Credo (2003), an audacious program including Beethoven and Arvo Pärt, and Resonances (2010), with sonatas by Liszt and Berg. Recent albums—Water (2016), with music from Liszt and Nitin Sawhney and Memory (2018), ranging from Satie to Silvestrov)—involve more fragmentary, through-conceived programs. Grimaud’s playing may have lost some of its youthful exhilaration, but it is always thoughtful and frequently provocative.

Aix-en-Provence, France
November 7, 1969
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