Sunday, November 4, 2018

David Grimal

David Grimal is a French violinist, conductor, and teacher born on February 9, 1973.  He is best known as the Artistic Director (and Conductor) of the French group Les Dissonances.  Ironically, Les Dissonances plays without a conductor and performs challenging repertoire (such as the Rite of Spring) which no other conductor-less orchestra would dare.  Grimal leads from the first chair.  Regarding Les Dissonances, Grimal has stated: “We work together in the sense of community of mind, a gathering of very strong positive energy and joy.”  Regarding the violin itself, he has said: “What interests me is the invisible - that something which makes the dancer take flight and causes his gesture to be eternal.”  The Dissonances musicians are from different parts of France and Europe – from various other ensembles – almost none are permanent members.  The orchestra plays in many different cities and venues.  Understandably, Grimal frequently plays the violin concerto repertoire with this orchestra.  When he does, he never actually conducts, as all other conductor/violinists do - he just lets the orchestra play by itself (and it is fully capable of doing so.)  His style of playing, although virtuosic and brilliant, is relaxed, unassuming, and unpretentious.  His repertoire includes the Schumann concerto, which is now gaining in popularity.  Grimal began lessons at age five but I do not know the name of his first teacher.  First teachers are usually not famous pedagogues or even famous violinists – sometimes they are immediate family members.  At the Paris Conservatory Grimal won first prizes in violin and chamber music at age 20 (1993.)  He later studied with the enigmatic Philippe Hirschhorn, most likely in the Netherlands, where Hirschhorn was then teaching.  He also briefly studied with other violinists after he graduated.  In 1996, he received the European Culture Prize.  He was 23 years old.  Needless to say, he has played in most of the world’s great halls with high-profile conductors and orchestras.  However, other than live recordings, his discography (on various labels) is not extensive.  Nonetheless, the few studio (commercial) recordings he has done have received national and international awards and recognition.  A great many composers have written works for him.  In 2004 Grimal founded Les Dissonances.  In 2008, he became artist in residence at the Dijon Opera.  (Dijon is about 200 miles southeast of Paris and is the birthplace of Rameau.)  Grimal has taught at the Advanced School of Music in Saarbrucken (Germany) for some time although I don’t know how long he has been there.  (Saarbrucken is about 180 miles north of Dijon and 200 miles east of Paris.  It is very close to the French border with Germany.)  Additionally, he plays at many music festivals around Europe and has frequently held masterclasses wherever he performs.  His violin is the Roederer Stradivarius from 1710, previously owned by Turkish violinist Ayla Erduran.  He also plays a modern violin made for him by French luthier Jacques Fustier.  You can listen to the finale from Brahms’ Third Symphony hereHere is Grimal playing Mozart’s fifth concerto – first movement.