Title - 'Memory'
Artist - Hélène Grimaud
For those not in the classical know, Hélène Grimaud is a French classical pianist and the founder of the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, New York.
Hélène Grimaud was born in Aix-en-Provence, France. She described family nationalities in a New York Times interview with John Rockwell: "My father came from a background of Sephardic Jews in Africa, and my mother's ancestors were Jewish Berbers from Corsica."
She has stated that, as a child, she was often "agitated," that was, until she discovered the piano at age nine. In 1982, she entered the Conservatoire de Paris, where she studied with Jacques Rouvier.
In 1985, she won 1st Prize at the Conservatory and the Grand Prix du Disque of the Académie Charles Cros for her recording of the Rachmaninoff Piano Sonata No. 2.
She experiences synesthesia, where one physical sense adds to another, in her case seeing music as color, which helps her with memorizing music scores.
Hélène Grimaud’s new Deutsche Grammophon album, Memory, released this past September 21st, 2018, stirs profound emotions through the elegant simplicity of miniatures by Chopin, Debussy, Satie, Valentin Silvestrov and Nitin Sawhney.
01. Valentin Silvestrov : Bagatelle I
02. Claude Debussy : Arabesque no. 1 in E major, L.66
03. Silvestrov Valentin : Bagatelle II
04. Erik Satie : Gnossienne no. 4
05. Frédéric Chopin : Nocturne no. 19 in E minor, Op. 72 no. 1
06. Erik Satie : Gnossienne no. 1
07. Erik Satie : Gymnopédie no. 1
08. Erik Satie : Danses de travers I - En y regardant à deux fois (Pièces froides)
09. Claude Debussy : La plus que lente, L.121
10. Frédéric Chopin : Mazurka in A minor, Op 17 no. 4
11. Frédéric Chopin : Waltz no. 3 in A minor, Op. 34 no. 2
12. Claude Debussy : Clair de lune (Suite bergamasque)
13. Claude Debussy : Rêverie, L.68
14. Erik Satie : Danses de travers II - Passer (Pièces froides)
15. Nitin Sawhney : Breathing Light [piano solo]
Music has been described as a means of rescuing that which is lost – a simple yet persuasive idea and one which informs Hélène Grimaud’s working definition of the art form.
The French pianist’s latest Deutsche Grammophon recording addresses music’s unique ability to bring images of the past back to life in the present moment, to conjure up vivid evocations of time and place.
Ergo, Memory explores the nature of recollection through a series of exquisite pianistic miniatures. Grimaud’s choice of repertoire embraces everything from impressionistic reveries by Chopin and Debussy to the timeless, folk-like melodies of Valentin Silvestro.
“Music peels back the layers of time to reveal the essence of experience,” Grimaud observes. “Momentary pain, distress, elation, fades – what remains is sensation. Sensation is the resonance of experience in the space of memory."
"And it is the space where music resonates within each of us – touching us, moving us, bringing us closer to ourselves. In that way, music can also help remind us that for all in our daily lives that is trivial, there’s a place where meaning is stored."
"And that it is not forgetfulness that is our burden, but the capacity to reflect and remember that is the wonder of being alive.”
For composers, memory plays a central role in transmitting influence. Debussy, for instance, absorbed formative lessons from his studies of Chopin and recalled them later in life when composing pieces such as Rêverie and La plus que lente.
His musical language also drew impressions from the harmonies of his friend Erik Satie. The points of coincidence emerge clearly in Memory.
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