"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.