French-Born Classical Pianist Helene Grimaud and the Passion of Musical Expression

By Thomas Swan on Nov 22, 2015 02:46 AM EST

Artistic expression, at its core, is the most awkward form of expression. No one person, no matter who they are, will ever think they've gotten it completely right. Musical or verbal, it matters not. Artists spend their entire careers looking for that one fleeting moment when they get it right. Helene Grimaud is spurred to life by a drive. It summons itself through her piano. It is her voice and passion.

Grimaud is one of the most inward, reserved people you will ever come across. The French-born classical pianist seems more in tune with her lack of a correct communicative structure, than she is comfortable in her own skin. As she says, via the New Yorker, "A wrong note that is played out of élan, you hear it differently than one that is played out of fear, the more extreme players...people who wouldn't be afraid to play their conception to the end."

Expression, the expression of boundaries of the soul and the paradigm that we exist in, to stretch it beyond the mere everyday, is any artist's true wish, his or her proverbial Holy Grail. Not only is the verbal or the aura at Grimaud's disposal, but the visual as well. Nothing so mundane as the fact that she is a beautiful woman. No, it is instead the music that she plays that bears her appearance. As the same New Yorker article notes during a recent performance: "Her hair was up for the Mozart, down for the Liszt, and back up for the encore, a transcription of Gluck's "Dance of the Blessed Spirits." On album covers, her hair telegraphs a mood. It is pinned up in a Clara Schumann-like bun for a Brahms recording, and on the cover of "Credo"--a CD of Beethoven and a pair of mystic-minded modern composers--it is tucked behind her ears, in wan, heroin-chic strands. Ordinarily, her hair is shaggy, with too-busy-to-blow-dry bangs."

She is a conduit to the beauty of forever, such as that of Johannes Brahms, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Franz Liszt--just a few of the many who help us realize music is a truth and not merely a pipe dream. Grimaud gives others a chance to find a basis, an opportunity to speak, when there is only silence around them. That is the true measure of an artist. To quote a beautiful girl who I can't link back to, but she is very real: "This person speaks to me and from me. I truly feel a level of fraternity and sympatico with this person. I love her as I love myself, which means I'm not always good at it, but refuse to stop trying."

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TagsHelene Grimaud, Helene Grimaud Plays Mozrt, Female French Classical Pianist, Beethoven Musical CD

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