Hélène Grimaud's 2010 album Resonances has a program with a unifying theme, though some explaining is needed to tease it out of the music. All of the works presented on this CD are notable products of the musical heritage of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and the connections Grimaud makes go backward in time to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, then pass through Franz Liszt to Alban Berg and Béla Bartók. While the Classical, Romantic, and modernist styles exhibited here are strikingly different from each other -- and the average listener shouldn't be expected to find much in common with Mozart's Sonata in A minor; Berg's Sonata, Op. 1; Liszt's Sonata in B minor; and Bartók's Romanian Folk Dances -- Grimaud nonetheless contends that lines can be drawn through the cultures, languages, and musical expressions of eastern Europe that influenced all these composers. Beyond this broad theme, the playing is characteristic of Grimaud -- impetuous, brooding, and vigorous, but above all passionate and showy -- so the listener may care less about the ideas justifying her selections when actually hearing her volatile performances. Grimaud is at her best in the Berg and Liszt sonatas, and her elastic rubato is quite effective in these moody works. Her manner of delivery is less attuned to Mozart's precise music, which needs tighter control and less rushing, or to Bartók's charming vignettes, which seem almost tossed off here. While some mental leaps are required to follow the album's thesis, expressed in liner notes adapted from an interview, fans of this virtuoso pianist will draw the direct conclusion that the music is all that matters, and give Grimaud their undivided attention. Others, however, may find the album a mixed lot.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Piano Sonata No. 8 in A minor, K. 310 (300d)|
|Romanian Folk Dances, BB 68|