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NOTE TO BROADCASTERS: Grimaud is pronounced "Gree-moh"

Pianist Grimaud plays Beethoven and Brahms in April 6 Hancher concert

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- French pianist Helene Grimaud will play works by Brahms and Beethoven in a concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 6, in Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus. The concert is part of Hancher's 1996-97 IES Industries Piano Series.

The program features three sets of compositions by Brahms -- the Fantasies, op. 116; the Intermezzi, op. 117; and the Six Pieces, op. 118. Grimaud will also perform Beethoven's Sonata No. 31 in A-flat major, op. 110.

Grimaud commanded the attention of the music world at the age of 15, when her recording of the treacherous Rachmaninoff second piano concerto was released. Critics were nearly dumbstruck by the teenager's masterful grasp of a piece with such daunting technical and musical demands. A second recording of music by Liszt, Chopin and Schumann quickly followed, confirming that a major new talent was on the scene.

The critic of England's Gramophone magazine concluded, "It's a long time since I've encountered a young artist with so intuitive an understanding of what music is all about. . . . She just seems to know where every phrase is going, and why." The American Record Guide hailed her as "one of the most striking pianistic personalities to appear on recordings in recent years. . . . burning with passion and poetry allied to effortless, rock-solid pianism."

When Grimaud made her New York debut in 1991, New York Times critic John Rockwell praised her for her "ravishing command."

Now in her mid-20s, Grimaud is a regular visitor to the major concert stages of Europe, North America and the Far East. She has been featured as a soloist with the Orchestre de Paris, the Cleveland Orchestra, the London Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and other leading orchestras world-wide, performing with star conductors including Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Herbert Blomstedt, Charles Dutoit and Christopher Hogwood.

Grimaud's debut recording won the Grand Prix du Disque, France's top recording award, and she recently signed an exclusive recording contract with the Erato label.

Little has been typical in Grimaud's skyrocketing career. She did not begin her study of the piano until the age of nine, when she took up the instrument to combat the boredom of school, and only three years later she was accepted as a student at the Paris Conservatory.

She did not turn out to be a compliant student. Rather than working on the conservatory's etude regimen of short concert pieces, she spent her time attacking the big concertos and sonatas on her own. Defying her teacher, who refused to write a recommendation, she entered the Tchaikovsky competition on her own initiative, and soon thereafter decided to do without formal teachers entirely.

Depending instead on occasional interactions with a hand-picked circle of musical friends, including Daniel Barenboim, Gidon Kremer and Martha Argerich, and studying the interpretations of Glenn Gould and other pianists she admired, Grimaud became an independent, globetrotting autodidact while still in her teens.

Now, although she has been before the public for a decade and has released a half-dozen recordings, it is still common for critics to wonder at her interpretive depth and marvel at a musical maturity that seems so far beyond her years.

Tickets for Grimaud's April 6 Hancher concert are $28, $24 and $21. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, with Zone 3 tickets available to UI students for $10. Tickets for audience members 17 and younger are half price.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Further information about this event is available on Hancher's World Wide Web homepage, at <>.

IES Industries is the corporate sponsor of Hancher's 1996-97 Piano Series through the University of Iowa Foundation.