Special RelationshipsEin Bild, das Text, Menschliches Gesicht, Kleidung, Frau enthält.

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Hélène Grimaud explores the rich universe of German RomanticismFor Clara couples Robert Schumann’s Kreisleriana Op. 16 with Brahms’s Intermezzi Op. 117
and Lieder und Gesänge Op. 32, featuring baritone Konstantin KrimmelListen to Op. 117 No. 1 in E flat major, Andante moderato 
here “You can spend a lifetime with a piece like this and always find something new” Hélène Grimaud on Kreisleriana“I’ve always had a special relationship with the German Romantics,” says  Hélène Grimaud (in a recent interview for Deutsche Welle). “These are worlds in which I feel I can express what the composer intended.” That affinity is very much in evidence on her latest album, For Clara, which focuses not only on the pianist’s own relationship with the music of both Robert Schumann and his protégé Brahms, but also on that which bound both men to pianist-composer Clara Schumann (née Wieck). Grimaud revisits Schumann’s Kreisleriana, a work she has known most of her life and recorded once before, pairing it with Brahms’s three Op. 117 Intermezzi and his Op. 32 set of nine songs. Joining her for the latter is baritone Konstantin Krimmel, her musical partner on the Valentin Silvestrov album Silent Songs, released earlier this year (“Konstantin Krimmel and Hélène Grimaud deserve the highest praise for their poised and unaffected account of this beautiful, dreamlike music”, BBC Music Magazine).For Clara will be released by Deutsche Grammophon on CD, vinyl and digitally on 8 September. Filmed in the library of Polling Abbey near Munich, in June 2022, Hélène Grimaud’s performance of Kreisleriana will be available on demand on STAGE+ from 10 July 2023, while her Berlin recital with Konstantin Krimmel, featuring Brahms’s Op. 32, can be streamed from the platform now. Grimaud’s recordings of two further Brahms intermezzi – Op. 116 No. 2 in A minor and Op. 118 No. 2 in A major – will be issued as e-singles on 13 October and 24 November respectively.Writing to his beloved Clara in the spring of 1838, two years before they were finally able to get married, Robert Schumann told her how central she was to the new volume of works that were currently flowing from his pen – “You will smile so sweetly when you find yourself reflected there.” He named this set of eight enormously varied solo piano pieces Kreisleriana, after Johannes Kreisler, the eccentric, unpredictable composer invented by writer E.T.A. Hoffmann. Calling it “one of the most sublime, transcendent pieces of the Romantic piano literature”, Grimaud captures the shape-shifting instability and mercurial changes of mood – as typical of Schumann himself as of his fictional counterpart – which characterise Kreisleriana as it alternates between tenderness and turbulence, restlessness and repose. Brahms met the Schumanns in 1853, when he was just 20, and both husband and wife immediately began to champion his music, with Clara adding his works to her own concert programmes. As Robert’s health deteriorated, she and Brahms developed a friendship that lasted until her death in 1896 (Brahms himself died the following year). Even late in life, he sought Clara’s opinion on new compositions, such as the three wistful, elegiac intermezzi recorded here, written in 1892. Reviewing a recent performance of Op. 117 in Freiburg, the Badische Zeitung wrote: “Grimaud offered these profound musical outpourings as the composer surely intended them to be heard: a lyrical reflection on a rich artistic life. With autumnal colours, melancholic and brooding.”For Clara ends with the nine songs that make up Brahms’s Op. 32. Composed in the early 1860s, they set poems by two orientalist poets, Georg Friedrich Daumer and August von Platen, both of whom were influenced by the medieval Persian poet Hafez. While all nine are written in the first person, there is no single narrative thread running through Brahms’s choice of poems, which perhaps explains why the set is rarely performed in full today. Together, Hélène Grimaud and Konstantin Krimmel movingly convey the themes of love, loss, devotion and disillusionment which are expressed by both words and music, and might in some ways have echoed the composer’s feelings towards Clara. The artists bring the album to a close with a beautiful interpretation of the ninth and final song, “Wie bist du, meine Königin” (My queen, you are so wondrous), a masterpiece of the Romantic repertoire.As for Grimaud’s relationship with the Romantics, it seems set to continue for many years to come. “Those original friendships have evolved,” she explains, “but they’ve never diminished in importance, and they will always be with me, until the end.”  
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Musicians on a MissionEin Bild, das Kleidung, Text, Person, Frau enthält.

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“Their music spoke for itself. In fact, it sung for itself … Each of these works had a radiance …
It was … a concert of inventiveness, virtuosity, and joy, real joy”
ConcertoNet (on the ensemble’s 25th-anniversary gala concert at Carnegie Hall, October 2022)Deutsche Grammophon celebrates the pioneering Sphinx Virtuosi
with a debut album of music by African American and Latinx composers
Songs for Our Times presents the world premiere recordings of works
by Jessie Montgomery and Valerie Coleman
The album also features music by Michael Abels, Ricardo Herz,
Carlos Simon, Florence Price and Aldemaro Romero,
as well as a new Beethoven arrangement by Rubén Rengel
Songs for Our Times is set to introduce the Sphinx Virtuosi to a worldwide audience. Hailed as “top‑notch” by The New York Times, this groundbreaking self-conducted American string ensemble comprises 18 exceptional Black and Latinx artists. Sphinx Virtuosi’s Deutsche Grammophon debut recording is built from works by outstanding composers and artistic visionaries of colour. Its strikingly diverse tracks include the world premiere recordings of Valerie Coleman’s Tracing Visions and Jessie Montgomery’s Divided, both written expressly for Sphinx Virtuosi, which commissions new music annually, in line with its desire to expand its repertoire and connect with new audiences. Songs for Our Times will shine a light both on a community of composers often under-represented in programming and on the breathtaking musicianship of these young professional string players. It is scheduled for digital release on 28 July 2023. Three singles, featuring music by Aldemaro Romero, Florence Price and Ricardo Herz, will be released on 30 June14 July and 28 July respectively.Woven through the most recent compositions presented here are thematic threads of shared humanity, resilience, protest and conflict. Songs for Our Times opens with Global Warming by Michael Abels, winner of the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Music. Though the work’s blend of styles was originally influenced by the thaw in international relations after the fall of the Berlin Wall, its title has a new resonance today, and the music’s ambiguous ending leaves its meaning open to interpretation. Carlos Simon’s Between Worlds, for solo violin, was inspired by the work of artist Bill Traylor, who was born into slavery and later endured the privations imposed by segregation. The work receives a virtuosic performance here from Amaryn Olmeda.Valerie Coleman’s two-movement Tracing Visions travels from the harrowing “Till,” a reflection of grief and remembrance, to the uplifting “Amandla!” (a Zulu word for “power”), designed to celebrate the unifying ethos of Sphinx itself and underpinned by a motif based on the Morse code for “Sphinx”. Showcasing the talents of Cuban American cellist Thomas Mesa, Divided is a response – to quote its composer, Jessie Montgomery – to “the sense of helplessness that people seem to feel amidst a world that seems to be in constant crisis, whether it is over racial injustice, gender or religious discrimination, greed, power and poverty, or climate change”.Struggles of perhaps a more purely musical nature are to be found in Sísifo na Cidade Grande (“Sisyphus in the Big City”) by Brazilian violinist and composer Ricardo Herz. The rhythmic complexities and harmonic ambiguity of this vibrant piece are designed to evoke the futile uphill struggle of the mythological Sisyphus.Songs for Our Times also presents two 20th-century works. Fuga con Pajarillo by Venezuelan composer Aldemaro Romero combines fugal writing with the rhythm of the pajarillo, a dance in which the emphasis is placed on the second beat of each bar, while at the heart of the album lies a moving arrangement of the exquisite “Andante cantabile” from Florence Price’s String Quartet No. 2 in A minor.Finally, bringing the album to a dazzling conclusion is the finale of Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 9, arranged by Venezuelan violinist Rubén Rengel, a member of the Sphinx family. Honouring the work’s original dedicatee – the virtuoso British violinist of African descent George Bridgetower – Rengel’s version was described by ConcertoNet as “seamless, melodic, with Beethovenian propulsion”.The Sphinx Virtuosi is the premier touring entity of the Detroit-based Sphinx Organization. Founded by violinist, social entrepreneur and poetjournalist Aaron P. Dworkin in 1996 and now led by violinist and educator Afa Dworkin, this non-profit social justice enterprise is dedicated to increasing representation of Black and Latinx artists in classical music, recognising artistic excellence and transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. The Sphinx Virtuosi champions these aims and ideals and is passionate about undertaking widespread outreach and engagement work as it tours the US and beyond. The ensemble will make its UK debut at Snape Maltings Concert Hall on 30 July with a programme that includes Carlos Simon’s Between Worlds and Philip Herbert’s Elegy: In memoriam Stephen Lawrence.