Carnival of the Animals (12) Camille Saint-Saens
French pianist, Hélène Grimaud, has taken the theme of escape from pain and sadness for her debut DG disc, Credo
Composer: Beethoven, Pärt, Corigliano
Repertoire: Piano Sonata No.17 (Beethoven); Credo for piano, mixed choir and orchestra (Pärt); Fantasia on an ostinato for solo piano (Corigliano)
Artists: Hélène Grimaud (piano), Swedish Radio SO/Esa-Pekka Salonen
Label: DG 471 769-2
Grimaud’s debut DG recording features one blazing masterpiece (the ‘Tempest’ Sonata), one honourable failure (the Choral Fantasy), and two contemporary works of striking spiritual intensity. The Corigliano embraces a reference to Beethoven’s Seventh, the Pärt mirrors Beethoven’s message of transcendence through pain onto a higher plane of existence. However, the works are very different. While Beethoven rails against 18th-century Classicism, Pärt and Corigliano elicit soundworlds of a highly personal, though hardly revolutionary, nature. Grimaud probes the ‘Tempest’ Sonata with such acuity that the outer movements are transformed from a blaze of angst-fuelled intensity into arresting statements of modernity, and the Choral Fantasy emerges sounding like the masterpiece that, on paper, it certainly isn’t. I can live without the couplings, but Grimaud’s Beethoven cries out to be heard.