Twisted Nerve - Theme & Variations Bernard Herrmann
Hélène Grimaud shoehorns together very different examples of sonata form, including pieces from Liszt and Mozart
Composer: Liszt, Mozart, Bartók, Berg
Repertoire: Solo and Double Violin Concertos
Artists: Hélène Grimaud (pf)
Label: Deutsche Grammophon DG 477 8766
The Music: ‘A journey into the interior and to the outer limits’ is how DG’s blurb headlines this apparently disparate collection of three very different examples of sonata form from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, rounded off by six epigrammatic folk dances.
The Performance: Things get off to a shaky start with the opening bars of the Mozart A minor Sonata played in a distorted rhythm (why?). Grimaud takes a robust view of the Sonata, a far cry from the pearly tones of Uchida or Perahia. From Mozart to the atonality of the Berg Piano Sonata is a wrench and, fine though the performance is, it feels like work in progress. The Liszt Piano Sonata, by contrast, is given a powerful and fluent reading that gets to the heart of the piece, after which Bartók’s fleeting Romanian Dances seem rather inconsequential.
The Verdict: Ignore the verbal twaddle purporting to be the disc’s raison d’être, skip the Mozart, sample the Berg and revel in the outstanding performance of the Liszt and the delightful Bartók. Want More? Scriabin’s Sonata Nos.5 (1907) is another four-movements-in-one sonata written at the same time as Berg’s. Marc-André Hamelin plays it on Hyperion (CDA 67131/2).