"Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)
Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)
“Cerebral” and “passionate.” Words often used by critics to describe pianist Hélène Grimaud and her interpretations of Mozart, Liszt and Bartók. Having met her, we would now add “enchanting.” Grimaud looks like a French actress and speaks about her art with an almost childlike wonder. But there’s a fierce intelligence at work, and her performances provide “a glimpse of the transcendental,” as one London reviewer put it.
During a stopover in New York on her current world tour, Grimaud spoke with Alexis Bloom, who notes that the concert pianist “has battled back from illness to play like a titan.” Grimaud also took us to visit her Wolf Conservation Center, the other passion in her life.
Born in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France in 1969, Hélène Grimaud describes herself as an agitated and unpredictable child who found her salvation in music. At 13 she was the youngest student at the National Conservatory of Music in Paris and made her first recording, a Rachmaninov sonata, when she was only 15. Now on her latest album, “Resonances,” Grimaud takes on the challenge of playing Liszt’s Sonata in B minor, what she calls “a monumental quest.” In New York, at Steinway Hall, Grimaud performed this excerpt for “Quick Hits.”
Hélène Grimaud describes her new album, “Resonances,” as a musical tour through the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, from Mozart to Lizst to Bartók. In this concise, moving piece, performed for “Quick Hits,” she captures the spirit of Romanian folk music that inspired Bartók.
Hélène Grimaud is a risk-taker. She may appear ethereal, even fragile, but she has the will of a tiger, or should we say, wolf, the species she has chosen to protect at a sanctuary she founded in 1999 in South Salem, N.Y., about two hours north of Manhattan. In her “Quick Hits” interview, Grimaud describes her love of wolves, her recent illness, the magic of performing, and her synesthesia — experiencing sound as color.
Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
"Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987
Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)
Quick Hits, presented in partnership with PBS Arts, showcases the most dynamic sounds from around the globe. Every week, we'll introduce you to a new musician, visit with them in places that inspired their sound, and capture their songs on stage in performances you won't see anyplace else. Produced by The Talbot Players.