A Holistic Approach

by Christoph Gaiser
a black and white picture of Hélène Grimaud, standing, looking at the ground and touching her face

On her website, she calls herself a «Renaissance woman», and indeed Hélène Grimaud seems an heiress to the tradition of the polymaths and art-loving rulers of past centuries, given her wide variety of talents and interests and the breadth of her artistic output. However, the native of Aix-en-Provence who lives in the USA, the pianist, author and environmentalist could just as easily be labelled a romantic. Her artistic practice reflects a strong connection with nature and an uncompromising subjectivity. She feels a particular affinity with a sensitive poet and philosopher like Novalis, but also with Schumann’s and Brahms’ music, careening between exuberance and reticent intimacy. As a 16-year-old, she released her first CD of virtuoso works by the late romantic Rachmaninov; thanks to the mentorship of older colleagues such as Daniel Barenboim, Martha Argerich and Claudio Abbado, she quickly attained worldwide fame. In addition to the standard repertoire, her concert and recording schedule always had room for rarities, including Strauss’ Burleske and Pärt’s Credo. She has recently also championed the oeuvre of the Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov. She keeps an open mind for new formats and areas of expressivity, as witnessed by her collaboration with the musician, DJ and producer Nitin Sawhney or the visual artist Douglas Gordon, and not least the multimedia project Woodlands and beyond, which she developed together with her husband, the photographer Mat Hennek. She first performed at the Philharmonie Luxembourg in 2007, and she has returned here on nine occasions since, as a soloist or in conjunction with other musicians. During her residency in the 2023/24 season she will appear at the Philharmonie four times: She will perform concertos by Mozart and Brahms with two different orchestras. October will see a recital together with cellist Sol Gabetta and in June she will team up with baritone Konstantin Krimmel for another recital.

We’ve got something similar coming up soon at the Philharmonie: