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Hélène Grimaud To Release Deutsche Grammophon Album 'SILENT SONGS' in March

The album will be released on March 3.

Hélène Grimaud To Release Deutsche Grammophon Album 'SILENT SONGS' in March

The gentle music and quiet nostalgia of some of the most exquisitely beautiful poetry ever written flows through Hélène Grimaud's latest album. Valentin Silvestrov's Silent Songs includes contemplative settings of verse by Golden and Silver Age Russian poets Pushkin, Lermontov, Tyutchev, Baratynsky, Zhukovsky, Yesenin and Mandelstam, Ukrainian lyrics by Taras Shevchenko, and Russian translations of poetry by Keats and Shelley. Grimaud presents a dozen pieces from this haunting tribute to the innate music of poetic words. She is joined by the young baritone Konstantin Krimmel, winner of the 2018 International Helmut Deutsch Lied Competition.

Hélène Grimaud discovered Silvestrov's Silent Songs almost 20 years ago when she received a recording of the complete song-cycle as a birthday gift. Enchanted by the composer's music, she soon added a number of his piano pieces to her repertoire and began a long search for the ideal voice to partner in Silent Songs. Her search came to an end when she was introduced to German-Romanian baritone Konstantin Krimmel. They presented their Silvestrov programme at the Stienitzsee Turbine Hall near Berlin at the end of August 2022, performing it in the presence of the octogenarian composer, who has lived in Berlin as an exile from his war-torn homeland since March. It was on this occasion that Grimaud and Silvestrov met for the first time. The concert, which also included songs by Brahms, was filmed by DG and will premiere on STAGE+ on 21 January 2023. The resulting album is due for release by Deutsche Grammophon on 3 March 2023.

"It is music which I find deeply touching in its authenticity and transparency of feelings," observes Hélène Grimaud. "It is utterly poetic, never pretending to be something else. I am always happy to see how much it resonates with people. When I first asked to programme some of the pieces in concert, there might perhaps have been some scepticism. But I've always felt that we interpreters are an open channel between the world of the composer and the inner world of the audience. It's only in that moment of acquaintance, when the sound resonates, that the connection happens, and it's a powerful one. I've never not experienced it in sharing Silvestrov's music with the audience, and that's a beautiful thing to live through."

Parts of Silent Songs (1974-77) were first performed in Kyiv in 1977, and the premiere of the complete cycle took place in Moscow in 1985. The work marked Silvestrov's transition away from his place among the leaders of the Soviet avant-garde to become a composer of music rooted in the traditional materials of melody and harmony. His mature works evoke universal emotions through their use of such clear and simple musical forms as lullabies, waltzes, nocturnes and serenades to create what he calls "metamusic", shorthand for metaphorical music - a kind of universal language. "I believe that music - even if it cannot be 'sung' - is song nevertheless," he notes; "it is neither philosophy nor a world view, it is the song of the world about itself, as it were a musical testimony to existence." The complete song-cycle comprises 24 songs and takes nearly two hours to perform without a break. "The Silent Songs and my piano cycle Kitsch Music (1977) are silence set to music", comments the composer.

The emotional ebb and flow of human existence finds pure expression in the words and music of Silent Songs. Grimaud and Krimmel open their album with two sublime settings of elegiac love lyrics by Yevgeni Baratynsky, "Song can heal the ailing spirit" and "There were storms and tempests", and continue with a spellbinding treatment of Keats's "La Belle Dame sans Merci" in Russian translation. Other highlights include "Farewell, O world, farewell, O earth" from Shevchenko's Son ("The Dream"), the poem that precipitated his imprisonment and exile by the Tsarist authorities; "O melancholy time! Delight for eyes!" from Pushkin's Autumn; Shelley's "The Isle"; "I will tell you with complete directness", Osip Mandelstam's hymn to harsh reality; a heartfelt setting of Pushkin's "Winter Journey"; and the yearning nostalgia of "Autumn Song", to lyrics by the short-lived Sergei Yesenin, among the most popular of all 20th-century Russian poets.

Hélène Grimaud and Konstantin Krimmel will perform a selection of Silent Songs on 15 February at Berlin Cathedral. "Song can heal the ailing spirit" is set for release as an e-single on 20 January, with the e-single of "Autumn Song" to follow on 17 February. Three e-videos are also scheduled for release on 20 January, 24 February and 7 April respectively, the last coinciding with the album's release as a vinyl LP.

About Hélène Grimaud

Renaissance woman Hélène Grimaud is not just a deeply passionate and committed musical artist whose pianistic accomplishments play a central role in her life. She is a woman with multiple talents that extend far beyond the instrument she plays with such poetic expression and peerless technical control. The French artist has established herself as a committed wildlife conservationist, a compassionate human rights activist and as a writer.

Grimaud was born in 1969 in Aix-en-Provence and began her piano studies at the local conservatory with Jacqueline Courtin before going on to work with Pierre Barbizet in Marseille. She was accepted into the Paris Conservatoire at just 13 and won first prize in piano performance a mere three years later. She continued to study with György Sándor and Leon Fleisher until, in 1987, she gave her well-received debut recital in Tokyo. That same year, renowned conductor Daniel Barenboim invited her to perform with the Orchestre de Paris: this marked the launch of Grimaud's musical career, characterised ever since by concerts with most of the world's major orchestras and many celebrated conductors.

Between her debut in 1995 with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Claudio Abbado and her first performance with the New York Philharmonic under Kurt Masur in 1999 - just two of many notable musical milestones - Grimaud made a wholly different kind of debut: in upper New York State she established the Wolf Conservation Center.

Her love for the endangered species was sparked by a chance encounter with a wolf in northern Florida; this led to her determination to open an environmental education centre. "To be involved in direct conservation and being able to put animals back where they belong," she says, "there's just nothing more fulfilling." But Grimaud's engagement doesn't end there: she is also a member of the organisation Musicians for Human Rights, a worldwide network of musicians and people working in the field of music to promote a culture of human rights and social change.

For a number of years she also found time to pursue a writing career, publishing three books that have appeared in various languages. Her first, Variations Sauvages, appeared in 2003. It was followed in 2005 by Leçons particulières, and in 2013 by Retour à Salem, both semi-autobiographical novels.

It is, however, through her thoughtful and tenderly expressive music-making that Hélène Grimaud most deeply touches the emotions of audiences. Fortunately, they have been able to enjoy her concerts worldwide, thanks to the extensive tours she undertakes as a soloist and recitalist. A committed chamber musician, she has also performed at the most prestigious festivals and cultural events with a wide range of musical collaborators, including Sol Gabetta, Rolando Villazón, Jan Vogler, Truls Mørk, Clemens Hagen, Gidon Kremer, Gil Shaham and the Capuçon brothers. Her prodigious contribution to and impact on the world of classical music were recognised by the French government when she was admitted into the Ordre National de la Légion d'Honneur (France's highest decoration) at the rank of Chevalier (Knight).

Hélène Grimaud has been an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist since 2002. Her recordings have been critically acclaimed and awarded numerous accolades, among them the Cannes Classical Recording of the Year, Choc du Monde de la musique, Diapason d'or, Grand Prix du disque, Record Academy Prize (Tokyo), Midem Classic Award and the Echo Klassik Award.

Her early recordings include Credo and Reflection (both of which feature a number of thematically linked works); a Chopin and Rachmaninov Sonatas disc; a Bartók CD on which she plays the Third Piano Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra and Pierre Boulez; a Beethoven disc with the Staatskapelle Dresden and Vladimir Jurowski which was chosen as one of history's greatest classical music albums in the iTunes "Classical Essentials" series; a selection of Bach's solo and concerto works, in which she directed the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen from the piano; and a DVD release of Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and Claudio Abbado.

In 2010 Grimaud recorded the solo recital album Resonances, showcasing music by Mozart, Berg, Liszt and Bartók. This was followed in 2011 by a disc featuring her readings of Mozart's Piano Concertos Nos. 19 and 23 as well as a collaboration with singer Mojca Erdmann in the same composer's Ch'io mi scordi di te?. Her next release, Duo, recorded with cellist Sol Gabetta, won the 2013 Echo Klassik Award for "chamber recording of the year", and her album of the two Brahms piano concertos, the First recorded with Andris Nelsons and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Second with Nelsons and the Vienna Philharmonic, appeared in September 2013.

This was followed by Water (January 2016), a live recording of performances from tears become... streams become..., the critically-acclaimed large-scale immersive installation at New York's Park Avenue Armory created by Turner Prize-winning artist Douglas Gordon in collaboration with Grimaud. Water features works by nine composers: Berio, Takemitsu, Fauré, Ravel, Albéniz, Liszt, Janáček, Debussy and Nitin Sawhney, who wrote seven short Water Transitions for the album as well as producing it. April 2017 then saw the release of Perspectives, a two-disc personal selection of highlights from her DG catalogue, including two "encores" - Brahms's Waltz in A flat and Sgambati's arrangement of Gluck's "Dance of the Blessed Spirits" - previously unreleased on CD/via streaming.

Grimaud's next album, Memory, was released in September 2018. Exploring music's ability to bring the past back to life, it comprises a selection of evanescent miniatures by Chopin, Debussy, Satie and Valentin Silvestrov which, in the pianist's own words, "conjure atmospheres of fragile reflection, a mirage of what was - or what could have been".

For her most recent recording, The Messenger, Grimaud created an intriguing dialogue between Silvestrov and Mozart. "I was always interested in couplings that were not predictable," she explained, "because I feel as if certain pieces can shed a special light on to one another." Together with the Camerata Salzburg, she recorded Mozart's Piano Concerto K466 and Silvestrov's Two Dialogues with Postscript and The Messenger - 1996, of which she also created a solo version. Mozart's Fantasias K397 and K475 complete the programme. The Messenger was released in October 2020.

Hélène Grimaud began the 2022-23 season with a recital of her Memory recording in Santa Fe's Lensic Performaing Arts Center. Her forthcoming plans include performances of Brahms's Piano Concerto No.1 in D minor with the Dallas Symphony Orchesta and Fabio Luisi (October), Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and Otto Tausk (November), and St Louis Symphony Orchestra and Stephane Deneve (January); Schumann's Piano Concerto in A minor with Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Louis Langree (October); finishing the year with a recital at Carnegie Hall (December). The new year starts with her European tour with Camerata Salzburg in Ludwigshafen, Salzburg, and Turin (February). Followed by recitals in Vienna, Luxembourg, Munich, Berlin, and London (March-May) to name a few.

Hélène Grimaud is undoubtedly a multi-faceted artist. Her deep dedication to her musical career, both in performances and recordings, is reflected and reciprocally amplified by the scope and depth of her environmental, literary and artistic interests.

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