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Helene Grimaud & BSO execute with intensity and grandeur in Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 / Washington Classical Review

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After intermission, Hélène Grimaud joined the orchestra to perform Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2. The Second is an unusually long concerto, typically taking over forty minutes to perform. It also poses a unique set of challenges to performers, requiring tremendous endurance as well as sensitivity to the larger symphonic musical texture. The work opens with a solo horn gently introducing the main theme in a duet with the pianist, which Grimaud and principal horn Philip Munds played to enchanting effect. A tumultuous cadenza follows the introduction of this theme, which Grimaud executed with intensity and grandeur, proving herself fully suited to the daunting physical demands of this music.

Throughout the work, Grimaud produced a volume of sound to rival the orchestra, no mean feat in the Meyerhoff, which is often a challenging hall for soloists. Yet she also proved capable of playing with a rich variety of coloring, and created special moments of quiet beauty in the lyrical third movement. Besides being one of the most difficult works ever written for the piano, this concerto also makes great demands on the orchestra. Alsop guided the ensemble with great finesse, allowing them to play with great expression while still keeping them aligned with Grimaud. At the end of the concerto, the audience gave one of the most enthusiastic ovations of the BSO's season thus far,. Grimaud graciously acknowledged the cheers and applause as she took the stage for numerous curtain calls.

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