Conductor and soloist have temperamental malfunction

Conductor and soloist have temperamental malfunction


norman lebrecht

July 14, 2011

It should have been glamour night at the Lucerne Festival – the unassailable Claudio Abbado matched with the unattainable Helene Grimaud, one the thinking man’s maestro, the other much thought about by overheated men. And wolves, of course.

But it wasn’t to be.

A press release tells me that Claudio will not be working with the belle Helene. They regret the inconvenience.

I’ll let you know if I hear what really went down.

Press information: July 14th 2011




It is with deep regret that Claudio Abbado and Hélène Grimaud have announced that, due to artistic differences, they will not be able to collaborate as originally planned for their performances at LUCERNE FESTIVAL (August 10, 12 and 13) and at London’s Southbank Centre later this year. Both artists apologize for any inconvenience resulting from this decision.


The programme remains unchanged. Radu Lupu has graciously agreed to take over as soloist in the Piano Concerto in D minor of Johannes Brahms for the concerts in Lucerne with Claudio Abbado and the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA on August 10, 12. and 13. The soloist for the London concert will be announced as soon as possible


  • Bruce Brubaker says:

    That would be the piece!

  • Dafydd Llywelyn. Composer in Munich. says:

    One mans meat is another mans poison ! A similar situation happened years ago with the same 1st.Piano concerto of Brahms with also 2 distinguished,very diffrerent,individualistic est. Glenn Gould & Leonard Bernstein in New York. Both of them had very strong different interpretative opinions,views,music aesthetic approaches.Both of them uncompromising in their seriousness about Music. But when it “came down to the crunch “,at the end of the day when the question was asked ” Aimez vous Brahms ? “(to coin a phrase !).They both of them discovered a common denominator, and the show went on.” Der Kluge gibt nach”, & Bernstein “GRACIOUSLY” agreed to accompany Gould in the performance,at the same time explaining to the audience beforehand that he RESPECTS Gould as an Artist. One must add ” Hats off Gentlemen “,although they beg to differ ! The results of that colloboration was more than interesting,& is even today a topic of conversation,as it wasn’t just an every day run of the mill 1 rehearsal under rehearsed performance of conventional boredom,which is more than often presented to the bored unknowledgeable subscription or event public who attend concerts more as social duties than of love for Music ! -A Concerto can be described as a battle between piano & Orchestra,positive or negative. I have heard Mlle Grimaud perform this work with the great & sovereign elder statesman of Conductors Kurt Sanderling here in Munich,& he like most great accompanyists respected the wishes of the Soloist but also adding his own special brand of spices & sauce to the musical menue. Spontanaity & Flexibility. I also experianced perhaps the greatest Conductor-Accompanyist of the 20th century,my own Mentor & teacher Kyril Kondraschin in a live broadcast performance of Tchaikovskys 1st.Piano Concerto with Martha Argerich & the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra here in Munich. In each rehearsal Mlle Argerich presented completely different Tempi, & in the concert performance played in triple tempo in the Octave interlocution between piano & orchestra near the end of the 1st movement.absolutely unexpected & freakish, & electryfying. Kondraschin who had conducted this work over 1000 times was delighted,& commented to me afterwards ” never a dull moment with this young lady ” .It was the only time they performed together due to his unfortunate untimely early death. Perhaps the ” unassailable” Sig.Abbado &” la belle Hélène “should bury their axes which they are apparently grinding,or weeping & wailing & knashing their teeth,& follow the examples of Bernstein, Gould, Sanderling,Argerich & Kondraschin, & everyone could profit from it. & be happy.There are enough wars being carried out for senceless egoistic reasons in the world today.It doesn’t have to be in the concert hall. Music is not allways harmonious.It also contains disonances,as does every day life situations.One German Philosopher said that wars begin in the common walls of a middle class living room. Indeed food for thought. I wonder how & where their small problem started ? At Brahms Cost ? ! – -Signor Abbado ,in all respect to what you have achieved in your Life of Music, i don’ agree with your Tempo at the opening bars 1st movt. Mahler 6th Symphony, marked Allegro, ma non troppo. You seem to have overlooked ” MA NON TROPPO ” ! -Far too fast & not TRAGIC enough. I would recommend listening to the Tempi that Boulez , Barbirolli, & Maazel are conducting on their various recordings. It’s nearer to the inner truth & message in this music ! But we can allways beg to differ. Sincerely, Dafydd Llywelyn.( Composer in Munich.)

  • Drew Lewis says:

    I wish someone would invent something called a ‘paragraph’. That would be a great device for dividing huge chunks of text into distinct steps in a sequence of information.

  • Joe C says:

    Never mind Wolves….Sometimes when enormous egos interact, it more accurately resembles two RAMS, butting horns…

  • Linda McDougall says:

    Come on, guys! Abbado is an extraordinary, spiritual and magnetic conductor. His ego is NOT overblown. Grimaud shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same text as Marta Agerich, another true master of her craft.
    Find me another wiser, more sensitive and CORRECT conductor, and I’ll eat my words. He simply won’t
    tolerate less than excellence and tenderness…which is one reason he touches us so deeply.

    Am I crazy? No. Just unspeakably appreciative of Claudio – and many others. But he’s special and Grimaud is not.

  • Prof. Acija Alfirevic,an academic, sciantist and writer says:

    Helene Grimaud is unique! She belongs to future! One has to be open minded, open hearted to see it…