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One woman, three passions 

Pianist, writer and animal lover Hélène Grimaud is one of those who puts many of us in the shade. In their own words, an inhuman. The 10. March she plays in Oslo. 


Hélène was a hyperactive child. It led to many dis-words: disobedient, dissatisfied, inconsiderate, impossible, disciplined, insatiable, uneducated, uncontrollable, erratic. The parents tried to channel the energy, but nothing, whether tennis, dance or judo, brought forth. “Around me, the girls my age talked about tulle, embroidery, cradles and children; Hélène was also a lonely child, plagued by obsessions; it led to self-harm. Until her parents decided to introduce her to music, a world they themselves stood outside. In his autobiographical book Sauvage of variation She describes her childhood: "I've never had the feeling of losing paradise, but on the contrary felt the need to find a paradise that was waiting for me somewhere else." She didn't have to wait long; everything goes so fast with Hélène Grimaud. She began playing piano at the age of eight, where she grew up, in southern France, Aix-en-Provence, and as a twelve-year-old she was enrolled at the Paris Conservatory of Music. The unruly child had found a place where her energy was not a nuisance, but a gift. She had found a life. The first.

The mandatory times. As if out of nowhere came a gift that became everything. Although personality and fiery temperament remained unchanged. When the music professor was told by the 13-year-old that the pieces he was giving her to play did not interest her – she wanted to go ahead with bigger tasks – he clearly stated: Don't show me to me until you play the obligatory times. The girl took the floor, disappeared to Aix's childhood home and worked on major tasks. She was gone for a month. Back in Paris, she was surprised that she was not celebrated, but so far avoided being thrown out of the conservatory. Although she could document a recorded piano concerto and and passant also the "boring" pieces.

"If you always play within the comfort zone, where you make sure you have full control, you can actually drop concerts (...)"

A pianist in the classic genre who wants to mark originality has little to frolic with. The notes are given, you can to some extent tighten the tempo and dynamics, refine the estimate and highlight the structure, but it remains: The composer owns the work; the practitioner is a medium.

But the practitioner owns the moment! Hélène Grimaud is today a celebrated name in the starry sky of art. There are countless winnings, videos and interviews by and with her. The DVD is especially recommendable A Russian Night with conductor Claudio Abbado, who documents Grimaud's musical credo, through her performance of Sergei Rakhmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2. The interview with the soloist is rich in content and well-articulated, in contrast to what is often the case with such bonus material.

Hélène Grimaud is a rare flower in the pianist flora, also at the verbal level, as a writer, but also orally, when she in interviews describes the living moment: «Then (during live performances) you can stop time – create an element of shared freedom." It is a passion with calculated risk, where the technique is challenged and the interpretation is created spontaneously from time to time. Grimaud: "If you always play within the comfort zone, where you make sure you have full control, you can actually drop concerts. Then you can just as easily stay at home and listen to your favorite recording. " The willingness to take risks is further shown in the preparation phase: “I have never liked to try a lot before a first concert. Why should this first kiss take place under the worst conditions? Poor hall, poor acoustics, mediocre piano? »

The unruly child had found a place where her energy was not a nuisance, but a gift. 

Conservation of the wolf. One day towards the end of the nineties, somewhere in northern Florida, on a night walk with the dog, she is left in front of the moment. A man comes walking in the dark. He has an animal with him. With shining eyes. A wolf. Hélène is as if enchanted, but strangely not afraid. The wolf – a female animal – sniffs at her, withdraws, comes again, and this time a specimen of a distinctly human-shy species lies on its back in front of the young woman and offers the belly to cuddle. It was a decisive moment, which led to Grimaud's environmental protection commitment and the creation of The Wolf Conservation Center i South Salem, New York, where she currently holds her protective hand over about twenty wolves, and where education is provided for, among other things, school classes, as well as general awareness of man's place in nature. This also found a place in the first book she wrote – again apparently a passerby. Sauvage of variation tells of his own life, but at the same time interweaves the wolf: «Ever since antiquity, peoples who believe to have descended from the wolf or who have chosen it as their totem, one in common. They are nomads or groups that cannot be organized. For the wolf is admittedly, in the eyes of peasants and permanent residents, the classically erratic and dangerous hunter (…) but it fascinates the warriors, people of the wind and of open landscapes, because of its intelligence and its hunting skills. "

Hélène Grimaud is 48 years old, and for three decades she has lived three fundamentally different lives, all of which complement each other in the unknown world she dreamed of as a child. Book number 2, Particular lessons, 2005, half novel and half self-portrait, in typical allegrotempo, structured as a spiritual film, is located somewhere between Jack Kerouac and Hermann Hesse. Book number 3, Return to Salem, 2013, another genre crossing, throws itself into a leap between reality and fiction. Hélène Grimaud has received several orders, including being a knight of the Legion of Honor. Grimaud is one Total artwork on two legs: current every time this uman udefeated steps into the podium, throws a glowing uglance into the audience and take the piano and the moment in uno possession.

Ranveig Eckhoff
Ranveig Eckhoff
Eckhoff is a regular reviewer for Ny Tid.

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