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Pianist Helene Grimaud's Fascination With One Of Nature's Precious Elements

Quite a few classical composers have found artistic inspiration in one of the planet’s most important natural resources. WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports on pianist Helene Grimaud's new recording of a collection of works reflecting on...water.

Helene Grimaud performs Brahms'Piano Concerto No. 2 with The Philadelphia Orchestra at the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall,March 3, 4 and 5, 2016.

Radio Script:

MUSIC: Helene Grimaud performing Liszt's Années de pèlerinage III, S.163 - "Les Jeux d'eaux a la Villa d'Este"

Susan Lewis: Liszt wrote about fountains and water play; Debussy about the sea, and Japanese composer Takemitsu about rain.  Faure, Ravel, Janacek, and others have also taken inspiration from water’s various incarnations. Performing this repertoire, in turn, inspired pianist Helene Grimaud.

Helene Grimaud:  With all the scary facts about how so many people don’t have access to water today, it’s a certainly a strong aspect of the project, at least in the desire to bring this awareness to the forefront of people’s consciousness when they listen to this music.

SL: Grimaud chose works that were abstract -  not defined by narrative.

MUSIC: Ravel's Jeux d'eau

HG: Because I felt they left more to the imagination...I was more interested in uniting different poetical and philosophical and atmospheric perspectives on water.

MUSIC: Nitin Sawhney's Transition

SL: The need for water is universal and timeless, and the recording includes transitional pieces by contemporary electronic composer Nitin Sawhney.

HG: In a way, weaving all these different perspectives on water into one musical ecosystem of a different nature.

SL:  As a related project, Grimaud performed the music as part of a site-specific art installation at NY’s Park Avenue Armory, in which the Armory floor was flooded with water as part of the performance.

Listen to pianist Helene Grimaud talk with WRTI's Susan Lewis about her recording, WATER, as well as the related art installation in which she performed at New York's Park Avenue Armory.

  WATER is on the Deutsche Grammophon label.    

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.