HÉLÈNE GRIMAUD: DANCE WITH WOLVES
An evaluation from summer 2007
Among Hélène Grimaud’s many unusual attributes is the fact that she enjoys being interviewed. For the journalist accustomed to the exacting challenge of prising a few facts out of haughty conductors or making small-talk with neurotic and tongue-tied soloists, this is almost as good as winning a lottery.
“Sometimes I hear colleagues say: ‘I give everything I have to my music and then people get it or don’t, but it’s not my problem any more – once I’ve done it I can’t be bothered to talk about it’,” Grimaud observes. “That attitude is completely incoherent. After all, why do you do this? The ultimate purpose is to share it with others. I think that’s how it becomes truly transcendent, in the act of sharing it, and that’s probably why I could never simply record. I feel I couldn’t live without that musical experience of living in the moment in the presence of others. For me, discussing it is a way to prolong the exchange and potentially finding more people to be in touch with.”
She pauses for a sip of herbal tea. “More to the point, I’ve always liked talking to people and meeting them. It never feels like ‘oh jeez, it’s another interview”. For me it’s more of an encounter. It’s different every time anyway, so it’s actually quite enjoyable”.
It’s after midnight in a hotel lounge in the centre of Brussels, Grimaud being scheduled to perform a recital in that city the following evening as part of a short European tour. Most interviews occur somewhere between breakfast and dinner, but Grimaud suggested we get together after she’d shut herself away for a couple of hours’ practice. She arrives full of energy and wide awake, gliding into the room, stylishly dressed. You can’t help being struck by her searchlight eyes, which seem to read you like an infrared beam scanning a barcode for information. The conversation rattles along for another hour and a half, not least because the endlessly inquisitive Grimaud asks at least as many questions as she answers, until she decides to get some sleep before a lengthy TV interview in the morning. Otherwise, she’d probably still have been talking when the staff started laying out the croissants and orange juice for breakfast.
For the Brussels recital, she was planning to play two pieces she has recorded for her début cd for Deutsche Grammophon: Beethoven’s Tempest sonata and John Corigliano’s Fantasia on an ostinato, alongside Brahms’s Third sonata. But, she explains, she has no set formula for practising, and she hadn’t spent her rehearsal session worrying at the fine detail of the pieces, even though she reckons she’d only played the Beethoven and the Corigliano three times before she recorded them.
“Practice is different every time. A lot of it I do away from the instrument. I would say most of the time it’s going to be just enjoying the… what do you call it in English? The tactile pleasure, the feeling and what happens with sound, with touch. And at other times it’s very analytical where I just dismantle the piece and do it very slowly and I re-examine everything and I make choices, sometimes new, sometimes the same. But even when they’re the same, because they’ve been re-chosen they are different, so that’s the other way of practising. But tonight I just disappeared in the pleasure of doing it. Which maybe isn’t the best thing to be doing the day before a recital, but there is no recipe.”
Grimaud is an intriguing mixture of intellectual rigour and gambler’s instinct. She likes to approach recitals feeling fully prepared, yet in the anticipation that the performance will travel beyond the physical collision of flesh and blood with keys and pedals, and transport her, and the audience, to some metaphysical space beyond. However much rehearsal she may have done, she knows that the final few per cent of inspiration is in the lap of the gods, and it’s that which gives the event its compulsive thrill.
“Through preparation, you increase your chances of that, what I call visitation”, she reports. “It’s interesting, because if something special happens in the course of the concert I usually feel free as if I’m not really responsible for it. I’m the vehicle for something else. And if things don’t go the way I know they could have gone then you feel you are entirely responsible, so that’s not always easy to live with. But if live music is to survive, it should really sound as if it’s being written as you hear it.”
“Yeah. If it doesn’t have that element of freshness and spontaneity, then who needs it? You might as well go home and listen to cd’s or the radio. There has to be emotion, that’s the ultimate goal. After all that’s why music is – in my eyes, anyway – the most universal art form. And there also has to be that willingness to relinquish control and take risks. You feel more alive when you give everything and don’t try to preserve yourself or safe face or do whatever it is that people are always tempted to do. Ideally you should be out on the edge because otherwise there’s no reason for the performance to exist. Then it’s a museum item and it deserves to die dusty on the shelf.”
It is, perhaps, only the most extravagantly gifted who can afford to introduce an element of Russian roulette into the art of the concert pianist. Not much about Grimaud’s career has been predictable or orthodox. Born in Aix-en-Provence in 1970, to parents of mixed German, Corsican. Moroccan and Italian descent about whom she remains uncharacteristically tight-lipped, she never felt particularly French and says that “my first friends were books a long time, before music”. She developed an early passion for German romantic writers. She’s prone to lengthy and abstract digressions about the ‘concept of Universalism, as expressed by the visionary poet Novalis’, Universalism having been a late 18th century fusion of culture and politics, and Novalis (the pseudonym of Friedrich von Hardenberg) a briljant but doomed poet and novelist who died aged 28.
“For me, Universalism is the essence of German Romanticism”, she explains. “The idea was that all disciplines, be they science, religion, art, humanities or law, take root in global intuition, and it’s a movement that explores the interconnectedness of all things. I feel it’s very contemporary. I think it’s our only hope today for progress without losing our humanity.”
The topic is likely to leave the uninitiated layman lost in philosophical bemusement, but perhaps something about Von Hardenberg’s better-to-burn-out-than-fade-away trajectory appealed to the young Hélène, an instinctive rebel who was diagnosed as hyperactive at school. But why would a French girl feel so drawn to German literature in the first place?
She shrugs. “My parents are a mix of things. Their religion was literature, and a lot of what I am today had to do with the books that I grabbed out of their rooms. It just happened to be Russians, Germans and Italians. Often the chemistry you have with inner worlds of people has nothing to do with where you belong.”
She didn’t begin playing the piano until she was eight, a late start for anybody with serious soloist’s ambitions, but Grimaud had found her métier and pursued it with ferocious application.
“As a child I had a huge surplus of energy. My parents thought it was just physical energy – but it was actually mental and emotional. These days people talk about children having an attention deficit disorder. Well, I was the opposite of that – I was way too focused. My parents tried to channel this in many ways, but music was the one that grabbed me. It appeared to me as a bottomless pit, which I would never finish exploring.”
Not a mountain? That is a very strange analogy!
“No, it chimes with my childhood. When I was very young I used to put myself to sleep by squeezing my eyelids so tight that I’d get a seam of strange colours and a very strong sense of vastness. So for me, those moments became a void full of colours and otherness, and I loved toppling over the edge into it. When I started playing music, I had the same sensation.”
She was accepted into Paris Conservatoire at the precocious age of 12, dividing her studies between Jacques Rouvier in Paris and Pierre Barbizet in Marseille. In 1985 she won the Paris Consevatoire’s Premier prix in piano, and that summer made her début recording an all Rachmaninov programme. In 1986, in defiance of what she called the ‘fascistic’ strictures of the Paris Conservatoire, she entered the Moscow Tschaikovsky Competition and made it as far as the semi finals (she ended in 12th position). By 1987 she was playing Liszt’s E flat concerto with the Orchestre de Paris under Daniel Barenboim’s baton, and within a couple of years she was appearing with the London symphony orchestra under Myung-Whun Chung and the Bavarian State orchestra conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch, while bonding with such kindred anarchically inclined spirits as violinist Gidon Kremer and pianist Martha Argerich.
She cites a select handful of pianists she has admired. “There was Glenn Gould, there was Rudolf Serkin, Emil Gilels, Sviatoslav Richter, a lot of different people. I never had one that I idolised, there was never one that was the beacon of light in the landscape, but different artistic temperaments for their different facets really. Serkin and his unfailing integrity – there was something that is touching and so strong and clear about it. How can you not be swept away by that?”
Her new contract with DG came about following the internal upheavals at Warner Classics, for whose Teldec and Erato labels she had recorded a string of core-repertoire works by Brahms, Beethoven, Schumann, Ravel and others like Gershwin which won her acclaim for her clarity of focus and avoidance of easy sentimentality. She might still be at Warner, had it not been for the cunningly-timed intervention of Universal Classics & Jazz supremo Chris Roberts.
“When Warner closed those labels I got a call saying they were going to keep a few artists and they’d like me to stay. They said I could still do recordings with the same team, and I thought fine, then I’m happy to stay. I met Chris Roberts about a month later in New York. This was probably April 2001. I suppose the other labels had heard what was going on and started making contacts. I thought he was wonderful and I thought he really loved music, knew a lot, and aside from being cultivated about it was also pretty insightful. He also loved what he did, and was willing to innovate, had a very open-minded attitude, and I appreciated him very much.”
Roberts had obviously passed the audition, and as the months elapsed, the new horizons at Universal began to seem more alluring than the uncertain climate at Warner. Grimaud decided to jump ship, and after some horse-trading over Warner’s residual contractual option the contract was signed. The story goes that Grimaud insisted on a clause which would give her control over what works she would record.
“Well, it’s Appendix A or something, I’m sure nobody is really held to it”, she chuckles, skipping lightly over the subject. “I just wanted to make sure that we agreed that the direction of repertoire I wanted to do was going to be feasible. I wanted to make sure before I signed that they had an idea of where I wanted to go, and it was available and conceivable that I would be doing those works in the next five to seven years.”
And what might those works be?
“A lot of things that people identify with me, a lot of German Romantics. A lot more Brahms and Schumann and Liszt and there’s the Beethoven and Mozart concertos and the Janáček Concertino and chamber music projects also. Thematic solo cd’s and things like that. It’s a list of pieces I want to know I can go to.”
But she plans to record contemporay pieces too, and her new cd, Credo, drops a few hints about the breath of material she can foresee herself adressing. The title piece was written in 1986 by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, and swings dramatically between dissonant and infernal brass and choral sections and Bach-like piano passages. Grimaud had been at Pärt’s home in Berlin discussing the possibility of his writing a new piece for piano and orchestra, to which his response was to go downstairs to his music room and pull the score of Credo off the shelf. She took it home and studied it, and it struck her that it would make a good companion piece for Beethoven’s Choral fantasy, which she had already earmarked for her attention.
“I could tell you that both Credo and the Choral fantasy are in C major and are both for orchestra, piano and voices, but that’s not the reason why the pieces happen to be together. I felt that the messages joined in a way. The Fantasy is the center of gravity and deals with the realisation that we have the keys inside ourselves to somehow transcend the misery of the human condition, while the Credo questions the eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth principle – the idea is that the only way not to suffocate in your own hatred is to embrace whoever you perceive as the enemy. I was once asked to play the Beethoven, together with his Fourth concerto and some other things, in recreation of the original programme in which Beethoven premiered it and I learned it reluctantly. But in the process it just grew on me, and I became riddled with guilt for having once not given it proper consideration. Awkward and clumsy as it is, its spirit, and its reflection of humanity’s Promethean struggle, is so exhilarating, transcendent and touching – I felt I owed it amends.”
So what came next?
“The question was, what should I balance that work with? The obvious thing was a Beethoven concerto, but I wasn’t keen to couple it with that. I needed to find something which would stand as ‘The Other’ to it. So the Tempest sonata was added after it sort of insinuated itself into my ‘stream of conciousness’ as it suggested to me the German romantic idea of oneness, the connectedness of things through their sacredness while Corigliano’s Fantasia, composed for a Van Cliburn piano competition recommended itself by being based on the slow movement of Beethoven’s Seventh symphony, which I saw as mirroring in a mysterious form the way Pärt drew from a Bach Prelude when composing Credo. Bach, whose music is for me the sacred ground on which all subsequent music stands. I was also perplexed by the black passages in the score, where players were free to improvise. I realized there was a lot that could be done with that section: there had to be a sort of matrix. The section symbolizes chaos, but it clearly couldn’t be chaotically improvised. It had to have a mathematical pattern, a framework. Both pieces are atypical of what their composers are really known for”, she points out. “And they both talk about how one man’s vision is ultimately going to lend wings to another.”
You have turned this work into something prophetic. It sounds to me as though you have retrospectively recomposed it.
“I wouldn’t say that. I just wanted to be free without obscuring the works’s message.”
And what is that?
“That blind obedience to any ideology, nation or religion is evil and ultimately destructive. So that was exactly the coupling the Choral fantasy had been waiting for.”
Something else they share is that neither is recognised as a virtuoso showpiece for the pianist. “Yeah, exactly”, she agrees. “That wasn’t at all what I was interested in. It didn’t matter how prominent or not the piano part was, it was really more about the illumination that carries the spirit of the pieces.”
Apart from the quality of your playing, you are famous for two things: for having that unusual capacity known as synaesthesia – hearing in colour – and for your involvement with wolves. Tell me first about synaesthesia. I know the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin had it too. How did you become aware of it?
“It was when I was eleven, and working in the F sharp major Prelude from the first book of Bach’s Well-tempered Clavier – I perceived something that was very bright, between red and orange, very warm and vivid: an almost shapeless stain, rather like what you would see in the recording control-room if the image of sound were projected on a screen. But as numbers always had colours for me – two was yellow, four was red, five was green – and as I always found music evocative, I didn’t regard this as unusual. It was more the idea of colour than colour itself. Certain pieces always project me into a particular colour-world. Sometimes it’s a result of the tonality – c-minor is black and d-minor, the key that has always been closest to me, being the most dramatic and poignant blue.”
Could you relate this to the works on your Credo disc?
“The Choral fantasy is a spiral of black, green, red and yellow, the Tempest sonata is definitely black and blue, the Corigliano is mostly red and the Credo is an alternation of black and green.”
Okay, a colour-coded cd. But tell more about the musical rationale. Was it your idea?
“The idea was absolutely mine. I’ve sometimes turned down interesting dates, simply because the programme request did not resonate with me. So I’m glad and grateful that DG has agreed to trust me, to go ahead with this seemingly bizarre disc. But to me it’s all underpinned by the theory of Universalism as I told you already.
As a result of all these considerations comes a typical ‘concept album’, based on ‘negative instincts transcended by acceptance, by reconciliation’. Music within the stream of life, meaning self-renewal, self-overcoming, a sense of eternity’s scale to offer salvation and to restore the heart that has been lost.
John Corigliano’s Fantasia on an ostinato serves as a quasi-minimalistic Prelude, shifting colours constantly as if trying to get comfortable, its foundig cell the principal theme from the slow movement of Beethoven’s Seventh, reminding of Frederic Rzewski’ music, but with a stronger logic.
The transition to Tempest works beautifully, a quiet withdrawal segueing into an ethereal dawn. The Choral fantasy indeed celebrates the advent of light and as to Pärts Credo, a half-way-house between the barbed avant-garde of his early style and the austere serenity of his tintinnabulation based on Bachs C major Prelude underpinning the work’s structure nicely. An imaginative, really convincing concept and an auspicious DG début too. This album opens up the possibilities, the potential for listening creatively and for that reason alone is worth hearing.
The new album seems to mark a process of taking stock for Grimaud, coinciding as it does with her new book, Variations sauvages, published in France by Editions Robert Laffont. She has amassed her writings over many years, and shaped and edited them into book form, and she says her motivation in publishing it was “to remind people that they can’t ever give up”. According to Le Monde, it traces Grimaud’s journey from rebellious youth and adolescence, apparantly including descriptions of her obsessive behaviour and episodes of selfmutilation, to her professional success and decision to move to America. She now lives with photographer J. Henry Fair in upstate New York where the pair of them have established the Wolf Conservation Center (www.nywolf.org) in South Salem.
How did you come to get involved with those wolves?
“The first wolf I met was in Florida. I was walking my friend’s dog in the middle of the night, and I saw this pair of silhouettes, a man with an animal which was apparently canine but not a dog. We talked. The animal was obviously interested in me although extremely shy. We met again a month later, and by then she’d started to roll over for me. It was the aura she exuded that intrigued me – it was the sense of mystery, of meeting a free spirit trapped in the net of human dominion.”
As a lifelong rebel, did you identify with her?
“Not conciously (laughs). Who knows? A sympathy perhaps. But I began to visit her regularly, and I started learning about wolves. One thing led to another and – very much like my relationship with music – what started as a passion then became a mission, which brings an irrestible burden of responsibility.”
Why are wolves so important?
“Wolves epitomize the challenges of our relationship to nature and are therefore a keystone for larger conservation efforts. Wolves play a vital role in the environment; they are engineered of biodiversity in their ecosystem, which is most of the northern hemisphere. In an effort to make a difference, I hit on the project I am now helping to run near my home.”
It seems as though you’ve created your own community.
“My problem was always that I never felt I belonged anywhere.”
How French do you feel these days?
“I’m still a French citizen, but I never felt French to begin with. Somehow it never felt like coming home when I went back to Aix-en-Provence. On the other hand, I’ve always felt at home in Germany, and with the German musical repertoire. I moved to the US and am no longer tormented by where I come from, or where I belong. I feel I could move anywhere now, and it would not matter any more.”
You once said that meeting Martha Argerich made you feel less like a musical extra-terrestral.
“It did. At the Paris Conservatoire we often used the Alfred Cortot editions, which had very precise fingerings and pedal markings, and I felt all that had nothing to do with me. I change my fingering, depending on which hall I’m in, and which piano I’m playing, and my pedalling depends on the acoustic. The Cortot editions were about extracting difficulties, and dealing with them surgically and antseptically out of context. To me that was an absurdity. Like the horse obsessing on the obstacle, and freezing at the jump: you create new problems that way. You should concentrate on such musical questions as ‘Where does this passage come from? What does it mean? Where is it going?’ And when I met Martha Argerich, I found she saw some things the same way. I felt liberated.
Grimaud’s fascination with wolves, and the preservation of the animals themselves as well as the wilderness habitats they depend on for their survival, has sometimes tended to overshadow coverage of her music. Of course, including wolf-print design motifs and photographs of herself with wolves on previous albums didn’t do much to discourage this line of approach. However she is adamant that an obsession with music to the exclusion of all else is a short-cut to the madhouse, while it’s not difficult to see why the notion of wild animals living free and creating their own social structures would appeal to such a headstrong spirit as hers.
“When human beings have encroached on every single open area out there, it will be ‘the end of life and the beginning of survival’ as somebody put it. So that is why it’s an important cause. It’s the same as with classical music – the only hope for the long-term conservation of nature and wildlife and arts and classical music is education, that’s really where it begins. We get almost 10,000 kids a year coming to the Center now, and I’m really proud of that. I think it’s really empowering for kids to realise that their actions make a difference.”
Foreword by the pianist for her recording of Credo
Why does music exist if not to help the most wretched, to offer salvation in the direst circumstances, to restore the heart that has been lost? It isn’t the musician that counts, nor is it the music. Only the listener, and the star that rises, unexpected and unimaginable, in the firmament of his sadness; the warmth in his cold; the unfamiliar hope in the familiar, turbulent ocean of despair. Love is there. Not in the one who gives, nor in the one who receives, nor even between the two: it is in the exchange of one for the other. Music is this exchange; the musician, the one who initiates it. Shakespeare made this notion his own at the end of The tempest, his final masterpiece, when Prospero, the magus of a thousand speels, bids his farewell to the world in order to be born anew, now divested of his “spirits”, set free at last. He embodies the hope of love to come; he renders perceptible to all an ardent but detached serenity which survives – though does not dispel – the sadness of the tragedy that underlies all existence. It’s impossible not to associate Shakespeare’s play with Beethoven’s d-minor sonata, since a connection between the two works was pointed out by the composer himself: the tempest is the weather of passion, a heroic and contemplative passion culminating in a complete revelation for the heart.
And yet, at a certain level, the heart is not separate from the spirit that reveals it. And so the spirit breathing in Beethoven’s Tempest resonates in his Choral fantasy and in the Credo by Arvo Pärt: the text of the Fantasy celebrates the advent of light; that of the Credo, faith in redemption. But at a deeper level, what these works express is not so much a philosophical or religious message as the illumination that carries it and imbues it with meaning that transcends all temporal periods. We are on the threshold – music is the key. Within every being there is another being, not yet apparent but bound to appear little by little. Each has to transform and renew itself by moving the centre of gravity of its conciousness, no longer turning inward to oneself but outward to eternity. Eternity can then begin with this life. To have a sense of eternity is not to place the Eternal One above the world but to be born into another reality, enshrined in the first, into another state of love which replaces the first in a conversion to joy.
And so Beethoven takes the hand outstretched by Shakespeare, Corigliano that of Beethoven – in his Fantasia on an ostinato based on the celebrated Allegretto of the seventh symphony – while Pärt sounds a Bach Prelude, all of them united by a common fervour. The question of music has perhaps found its answer: not in regretting the past but in creating the future. This movement towards the universal, towards a point of possible reconciliation of all opposites – have I helped it become audible through this disc? I have tried to determine its rhythm. It was… it is – I know now – the steady pulse of my life.
DISCOGRAPHY (Dutch terminology, January 2012)
Bach: Uit Wohltemperiertes Klavier ‘Preludia en fugae’ nr. 2 en 4 uit Band I en nr. 6, 9 en 20 uit Band II; Pianoconcert nr. 1 in d BWV 1052; Bach/Busoni: Chaconne in d uit BWV 1004; Bach/Liszt: Prélude en fuga in a BWV 543; Bach/Rachmaninov: Prelude in E uit BWV 1006. Met de Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. DG 477.7978. (2008)
Bartók: Pianoconcert nr. 3. Met het Londens symfonie orkest o.l.v. Pierre Boulez. DG 447.5330. (2005)
Beethoven: Pianoconcert nr. 4 in G op. 58; Pianosonate nrs. 30 in E op. 109 en 31 in As op. 110. Met het New York filharmonisch orkest o.l.v. Kurt Masur. Teldec 3984-26869-2. (1999)
Beethoven: Pianoconcert nr. 4 in G op. 58; Schumann: Pianoconcert in a op. 54. Met het New York filharmonisch orkest o.l.v. Kurt Masur c.q. het Duits Symfonie orkest Berlijn o.l.v. David Zinman. Warner 0927-49617-2. (1999/1995)
Beethoven: Pianoconcert nr. 5 in Es op. 73; Pianosonate nr. 28 in A op. 101. Met de Staatskapel Dresden o.l.v. Vladimir Jurowski. DG 477.7149. Met bonus dvd: ‘Achter de schermen en Bach: fragment uit Bach: Prélude in C BWV 846. DG 477.6595. (2007)
Brahms: Pianoconcert nr. 1 in d op. 15; R. Strauss: Burleske in d. Met de Staatskapel Berlijn o.l.v. Kurt Sanderling c.,q. het Duits Symfonie orkest Berlijn o.l.v. David Zinman. Warner 0927-46768-2. (1998)
Brahms: Pianosonates nr. 2 in f op. 2 en 3 in F op. 5; 4 ‘Intermezzi’ uit Klavierstücke op. 118. Regis RRC 1327 (2010)
Brahms: Pianosonate nr. 3 in f op. 5; 6 Klavierstücke op. 118. Denon CO 73336. (1992)
Brahms: 7 Fantasieën op. 116; 3 Intermezzi op. 117; 6 Klavierstücke op. 116 en 4 Klavierstücke op. 119. Erato 0630-14350-2. (1996)
Chopin: Pianosonate nr. 2 in bes op. 35; Barcarolle in fis op. 60; Berceuse in Des op. 57. DG 477.5325. (2005)
Chopin: Ballade nr. 1 in g op. 23; Liszt: Après une Lecture de Dante S. 161; Schumann: Pianosonate nr. 1 in fis op. 11. Denon CO 1786. (1987).
Gershwin: Pianoconcert in F; Ravel: Pianoconcert in G. Met het Baltimore symfonie orkest o.l.v. David Zinman. Erato 0630-19571-2. (1997)
Mozart: Pianoconcerten nr. 19 in F KV 459 en 23 in A KV 488; Aria ‘Ch’io mi scordi di te’ KV 505. Met Mojca Erdmann (s) en het Kamerorkest van de Beierse omroep. DG 477.9455 en 477.9849 ( dvd). (2011).
Rachmaninov: Pianoconcert nr. 2 in c op. 18; Ravel: Pianoconcert in G. Denon CO 75368. (1993)
Rachmaninov: Pianoconcert nr. 2 in c op. 18; Prélude op. 32/12; Etudes-Tableaux op. 33/1, 2 en 9; Corellivariaties op. 42. Met het Philharmonia orkest o.l.v. Vladimir Ashkenazy. Teldec 8573-84376-2. (2001)
Rachmaninov: Pianosonate nr. 2 in bes op. 36. Denon CO 1054. (1986)
Schumann: Pianoconcert in a op. 54; R. Strauss: Burleske in d. Met het Duits Symfonie orkest Berlijn o.l.v. David Zinman. Erato 0630-11727-2. (1995)
Schumann: Vioolsonate nr. 1 in a op. 105; Met Gidon Kremer. Philips 434.030-2 (10 cd’s). (1989)
Schumann: Kreisleriana op. 16; Brahms: Pianosonate nr. 2 in fis op. 2. Denon CO 73336. (1987)
De volledige Denon opnamen. Brilliant Classics 92117 (6 cd’s).
Amerikaanse fagotwerken van Etler, Azevedo, Siquera, Santos-Pó, Villa-Lobos, Osborne. Met Jeff Keesecker. ACA. (2002)
Credo. Corigliano: Fantasia on an ostinato, Beethoven:Pianosonate nr. 17, Koorfantasie; Pärt: Credo. DG 471.769-2. (2003)
Reflection. Schumann: Pianoconcert in a op. 54; C. Schumann: 2 Rückertliederen; Brahms: Cellosonate nr. 1 in e op. 38; 2 Rapsodieën op. 79. Met respectievelijk de Staatskapel Dresden o.l.v. Esa-Pekka Salonen, Anne Sofie von Otter (ms) en Truls Mørk (vc). DG 477.5719. (2005)
Resonances. Mozart: Pianosonate nr. 8 in a KV 310; Liszt: Pianosonate in b S. 178; Berg: Pianosonate op. 1; Bartók: Roemeense volksdansen Sz 56. DG 477.8766-2. (2010)
R. Strauss: Metamorphosen AV 142; Le bourgeois gentilhomme op. 60; Ravel: Pianoconcert in G. Met het Europees kamerorkest o.l.v. Vladimir Jurowski. Ideale Audience 3078738 (dvd). 2009
Russian night. Tchaikovsky: De storm op. 18; Rachmaninov: Pianoconcert nr. 2 in c op. 18; Stravinsky: Vuurvogelsuite (1919). Met het Luzern festival orkest o.l.v. Claudio Abbado. DG 073-4530 (dvd). 2009
Living with wolves. EMI (dvd). 2009
Hélène Grimaud: Wildernis sonate. Oorspronkelijke titel Variations sauvages (Laffont Parijs 2003). The house of books, Vianen/Antwerpen. 2004.