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Hélène Grimaud: Beethoven

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Hélène Grimaud: Beethoven
Concerto No. 5 “Emperor”
Piano Sonata No. 28
(Ludwig Van Beethoven Bio)
(Hélène Grimaud Website)
2007 (Deutsche Grammophon Website)

The Staatskapelle Dresden Orchestra
(Staatskapelle Dresden Website)
Vladimir Jurowski, Conductor
Hélène Grimaud, Piano

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 29, 2009

This CD includes both Ludwig Van Beethoven’s (1770-1827) Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 5 in E flat major, op. 73 “Emperor” and Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 28 in A major, op. 101. This Concerto, Beethoven’s last (1809-1811), written in Vienna, is a pianistic challenge and an impressive choice for Hélène Grimaud. It has three movements, one mentioned below, not including the 1st, “Allegro” and the 2nd, “Adagio un poco mosso – attacca”. Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 28 was written in 1816 and dedicated to the pianist Baroness Dorotea Ertmann. The Sonata has four movements, and three are mentioned below, not including the 3rd, “Adagio ma non troppo, con affetto”. It is said that this is the only Sonata that Beethoven heard played in performance.

Notable tracks:

#3 – 3rd Movemenet, Concerto, Rondo. Allegro – The final movement of Beethoven’s Concerto No. 5 is performed by The Staatskapelle Dresden Orchestra and Ms. Grimaud with impassioned fervor, one never overwhelming the other. The musicality of tonal details, orchestral solo ornamentations, and lush piano waterfalls are all astounding and gripping. Both Maestro Jurowski and Ms. Grimaud chase and echo each other’s theme, with occasional variation and consistent urgency. The tempo picks up as the movement approaches the finale. The piano is silent for a moment, then breaks into a repetitive rich refrain, with the Orchestra joining for a final flourish.

#4 – 1st Movement, Sonata, Allegretto, ma non troppo – I chose three movements from Ms. Grimaud’s Sonata performance, to concentrate on her solo piano virtuosity. She interprets this 1st Movement with melancholy and nuance, seeming to occasionally pause in reflection, just as Beethoven was known to do while composing. This movement is introspective, interesting, and seems intuitively personal to the pianist.

#5 – 2nd Movement, Sonata, Vivace alla Marcia – Beethoven appears to create a theme, then dismantle, reconfigure, and change tempo and chords in a quasi march-minuet motif. The theme appears and reappears in varying tones and volume, with rhythmic intensity and determined punctuation.

#7 – 4th Movement, Sonata, Allegro – This final movement meshes the march-minuet with the original melancholia in diverse phrases, some seeming to race to the finale like a surging river, while others seem to cause the listener to pause and focus on each individually interpreted note. Kudos to Ms. Grimaud in her splendid recording of two important, yet diverse Beethoven works.

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at