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Grimaud - Nelsons - Wiener Philharmoniker - Brahms Concertos: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 And 2 on Limited Edition 180g 2LP + Download - direct audio

Grimaud - Nelsons - Wiener Philharmoniker - Brahms Concertos: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 And 2 on Limited Edition 180g 2LP + Download

Deutsche Grammophon Records

  • $ 3999

Grimaud - Nelsons - Wiener Philharmoniker - Brahms Concertos: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 And 2 on Limited Edition 180g 2LP + Download

With a nod of recognition to the composer – who himself let twenty-two years go by after completing his First Piano Concerto before starting on the Second – Hélène Grimaud notes that she’s needed every bit of the fifteen years that have passed since she recorded Brahms’s First to prepare herself for recording No.2. The explanation behind the sheer length of this musical journey lies in the particularly close relationship she enjoys with the D minor Concerto which, among other things, was the first work by Brahms she ever heard. Grimaud can still clearly recall that discovery, though her feelings about it are hard to put into words: “It’s something that completely consumes you, leaving no room for anything else at all – a new universe opens up to you and you just dive right in without a second thought.”

To her, the Concerto represents life itself, our very existence: “You land right in the heart of the action of that existence and there’s no turning back”. She acknowledges that it’s a work she needs, both physically and mentally, highlighting the unadorned, uncompromising side of its nature: “It gives the impression of having been written at one sitting, even though we know that’s not the case.” With reference to the second movement, dedicated to Clara Schumann, Grimaud pinpoints one impassioned, almost prayer-like moment, which has to be played with both intellectual and emotional honesty if the truth of the work is to be brought out: “You can only truly touch an audience if you play with sincerity. Even then, there’s no guarantee, given that we all perceive things in different ways. No single performance can touch every member of an audience in exactly the same way, but at the very least that basic parameter of sincerity has to be present.”

Her relationship with the Second Piano Concerto, meanwhile, is more complex, and somewhat paradoxical. For a long time it seemed less vital to her than the First. She felt its finale, however sublime, was surplus to requirements. “If many people prefer the Second, that’s perhaps because of its intensity of expression. It looks at what life has been, what it is and what it could have been. There’s a kind of nostalgia there, as well as a slightly bitter strain of tenderness.”

Even so, the idea of never broaching the work was unthinkable. She couldn’t imagine going through life without it – because of her relationship with Brahms, an affinity dating back to her childhood. His music gives her a sense of intimacy that she simply accepts, without attempting to explain or justify it in any way. She began work on the B flat Concerto in 2007, but it took time for her to feel completely at home with it, as she herself recalls: “I was very wary of it. It was as if I were observing both the work and myself in relation to it. There was a distance between us that wasn’t conducive to a truly successful outcome. I learned it, performed it twice, then said to myself, ‘well, mission accomplished, that’s enough for now’.”

Another five years went by before she felt irresistibly drawn to go back to the Second Concerto, and this time to embrace it fully, without reservations. And as she embarked on this new relationship, she also began to feel a similar urge to revisit the First. The thought of one without the other, of recording the Second without the First resurfacing, had become inconceivable. And so this album project took shape. Grimaud is keen to point out, however, that she did not deliberately set out to reinterpret Concerto No.1: “That’s not the way I work. As you evolve, as you experience certain things, you filter a familiar piece of music through your new experiences and encounters. In some ways your interpretation changes, in others it stays the same. It’s the idea of reconciling opposites.”

She recorded Concerto No.1 with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and No.2 with the Vienna Philharmonic – her first recording with this prestigious orchestra – both led by Andris Nelsons, a conductor she greatly admires, and with whom she has a strong fellow-feeling. She pays him tribute, saying, “You sense that musicians would do anything for him. I spoke earlier about the essential role played by intellectual honesty when you’re performing, and that’s true here as well. There’s a purity about him which I think inspires a different reaction from his musicians … He has intensity, musical intelligence and a sense of freedom, but there’s also something that emanates from him which has to do with instinct and that purity of intent – and it makes you want to give your all.”


Johannes Brahms (composer)
Andris Nelsons (conductor)
Hélène Grimaud (piano)
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Vienna Philharmonic

Grimaud - Nelsons - Wiener Philharmoniker Brahms Concertos - Piano Concertos Nos. 1 And 2 Track Listing:


1. Piano Concerto No.1 In D Minor, Op.15 - Maestoso - Poco più moderato
2. Piano Concerto No.1 In D Minor, Op.15 - Adagio
3. Piano Concerto No.1 In D Minor, Op.15 - Rondo (Allegro non troppo)


1. Piano Concerto No.2 In B Flat, Op.83 - Allegro non troppo
2. Piano Concerto No.2 In B Flat, Op.83 - Allegro appassionato
3. Piano Concerto No.2 In B Flat, Op.83 - Andante - Più adagio
4. Piano Concerto No.2 In B Flat, Op.83 - Allegretto grazioso - Un poco più presto

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