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Helene Grimaud plays Baltimore's Shriver Hall / Washington Classical Review

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Hélène Grimaud's work at the piano tends toward refinement and elegance, more than bravura power. The French pianist was supposed to open Shriver Hall's season in 2014 but had to withdraw because of a finger injury, to be replaced by Angela Hewitt. She finally returned to Baltimore on Sunday evening, for the first time since 2006. 

The first half, drawn from the "Water" program Grimaud released on the Deutsche Grammophon label earlier this year, was reflective in the meditative and aquatic senses of the word. The eco-conscious pianist's twee program note describes this selection of music as a "meditation on contrasting incarnations of water – gushing, trickling, raging, falling." Two opening pieces in slow, trickling style might seem risky for some pianists, who would rather grab an audience's attention. Grimaud, by contrast, drew us into this world of water, taking her time on the many rolled chords of Luciano Berio's Wasserklavier, with its allusions to earlier composers' musical descriptions of water. In Tōru Takemitsu's Rain Tree Sketch II, Grimaud continued her exploration of the dripping, pooling qualities of water, the work's luscious chords a tribute to French composer Olivier Messiaen.

READ THE FULL Washington Classical Review ARTICLE