06 Helene GrimaudFor Clara
Hélène Grimaud; Konstantin Krimmel
Deutsche Grammophon (deutschegrammophon.com/en/artists/helenegrimaud)

“Imagine, since my last letter I have again an entire volume of new things ready. I shall call it Kreisleriana. My music seems to me to be wonderfully entwined, for all its simplicity.” So wrote Robert Schumann to his wife Clara in April 1838 regarding the set of eight pieces which he named after a fictious character created by E.T.A. Hoffmann. Dedicating the collection to Chopin, it became one his most renowned compositions and is featured on this splendid DG recording titled For Clara together with the three Intermezzi Op.117 and the set of Lieder und Gesange Op.32 by Brahms performed by pianist Hélène Grimaud with baritone Konstantin Krimmel. 

The French-born pianist refers to Schumann as “the most literary of composers” and she returns to his music having previously recorded Kreisleriana in 2009 and the Piano Concerto in 2022. Not surprisingly, her performance is subline. The first, third and seventh in the set display a flawless technique while the neverending changes in mood throughout are treated with a stylish sensitivity.

The three Intermezzi by Brahms from 1892 are quietly introspective, each one of a deeply personal character. These autumnal works were among the last the composer wrote and Grimaud approaches the score with a delicate poignancy.

With their themes of loss and disillusionment, the set of nine Lieder und Gesange written in 1864 with texts by Georg Friedrich Daumer and August von Platen may seem a dark choice for these challenging times. Nevertheless, Grimaud and Krimmel are a formidable pairing, with Krimmel’s warm tone and fine diction together with Grimaud’s sympathetic partnership resulting in a most satisfying performance. Bravo to both artists – Robert, Clara and Johannes would all have been pleased!

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