Give it a try if… You are willing to give a beautiful woman a chance to make great art, too.
Steer clear if… You are boycotting Made in France to punish the population for voting the slimy half of “Merkozy”.
Thanks to an unexpected turn of events, I was lucky enough to be invited to the Palau de la Musica once more to witness a promising concert by Hélène Grimaud, a world-renowned French classical pianist with such a sophisticated charm she makes Carla Bruni look like the graceless social climber she allegedly actually is.
A Wonderful Programme
Hélène has been hailed as “the new Glenn Gould” for her ability to reinvent, pushing the envelope of creative listening across uncharted boundaries. Apart from useless marketing comparisons, Monday night’s performance surely confirmed her greatness, to an albeit sleepy audience I’ll cheerfully take the chance to slash in a moment. The programme included Mozart’s classic Piano Sonata No.8 in A minor, K 310; Alban Berg’s inventive Piano Sonata, Op.1; Liszt’s glorious Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178; and Béla Bartók’s aerial Romanian Folk Dances – that is, the same tracklist as Grimaud’s latest album, “Résonance”.
The Self and the Gift of It
I was absolutely surprised by Hélène’s interpretations. She truly is an innovator, in an almost scary sort of way. So much so that Liszt’s sonata (which I’m especially fond of, since it had the almost exclusive pleasure of accompanying me last winter in Berlin) blew me off my feet in both ways: that of the masterpiece which dares tell my deepest secrets in its own words, and that of the hypnotic take of a woman who just needs to hide under the bush of her own hair to turn into all sorts of substances and creatures, from Hungarian fog to a menacing yeti, from a retired geisha to the breeze of a warm April sunday.
Dead Men Sitting
While my friend, I, and some others were blinded by her courage and gave her due recognition, most of the audience looked and sounded bizarrely unmoved. A bewildering lack of respect, in my opinion, as much as the Murphyesque presence of a man sitting right behind us, whose breath was so tediously loud as to spoil several magic moments of the smartly designed sequence. Like, get us a life! Get a surgeon NOW! There I was, grinding my axe again… Luckily for him, the ruthless criminal vanished right after the second encore, saving his own life and the years I would have spent rotting in a cell. Come back soon, Hélène.
UPS score (Utmost Perfection Scale): 9/10 + standing ovation