MUSIC / Off the main roads: Adrian Jack on concerts by Helene Grimaud and Bryn Terfel

Helene Grimaud looks like the girl next door but plays the piano a lot better. Her unusual choice of programme at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on Tuesday was in itself a statement. It avoided the usual warhorses in favour of music of mellow expressiveness and introspection. Yet opening with Beethoven's Op 109 sonata, Grimaud made it clear she was a powerful player who could sustain long spans of music with confidence.

Some performances of Op 109 achieve in the outer movements a sense of serene balance. Grimaud took a less simple approach and filled them out almost in orchestral terms, charging them with dramatic intensity. She allowed her hands a good deal of independence - a striking feature throughout the evening was the way her left hand would linger behind the right to allow a phrase to expand.

She devoted the rest of the recital to three complete sets of short pieces which Brahms wrote towards the end of his life - Op 116, 117 and 118. Miniatures they may be in terms of mere clock time, but there's nothing small about them, and they offer immense scope for characterisation. Grimaud came up with one or two surprises: she played the delicate B flat minor Intermezzo of Op 117 quite boldly and also rather fast, as if to push aside any hint of preciousness. She also gave the mysterious piece that follows it a bumpy ride, ignoring its sotto voce marking at first, although she showed she could do it beautifully later on. Then she stripped the G minor Ballade, Op 118, of all its rhythmic muscle by speeding and over-pedalling at the same time.

But it would take much longer to describe all the good things she did. She could be tempestuous, as in the D minor Capriccio, Op 116, and the A minor Intermezzo which opens the Op 118 set; she could create a sense of expansive ease, as in the E flat Intermezzo, Op 117; and she could be most loving and tender, as in the A major Intermezzo, Op 118.

Few pianists would have shaped so many details with such affectionate understanding or revealed so many varied colours. She repeated one of the stormy pieces as an encore, but the final E flat minor Intermezzo of Op 118 was the one which lingered in the memory - a slow, winding cry of lonely pain.

Bryn Terfel is an amiable giant with a magnificently ringing bass- baritone voice. He ended his London recital debut at the Wigmore Hall on Wednesday with four full- blooded romantic songs by Meirion Williams, sung in Welsh. It's hard to resist a singer who declares 'I enjoyed that one]' after a rugged ditty in praise of his own kind.

He's not, perhaps, the ideal solitary romantic of so much German Lieder, yet six songs from Schubert's Schwanengesang were all vivid - he was rapt in 'Ihr Bild', artful in 'Das Fischermadchen', which he prefaced with a mischievous smile, and in 'Der Doppelganger' he created a chilling, statuesque vision of horror. As one of his encores, he made a most devastating drama out of 'Erlkonig', thinning his voice into a tone of lubricious wheedling for the lines of the sinister seducer. He was ideally warm and robust in Vaughan Williams's Songs of Travel, although, it might be argued, he pushed 'Whither must I wander?' towards the sentimental and played up unduly to his audience in the final song, with a knowing look when he came to the words, 'Fair the fall of songs when the singer sings them'.

But he also gave much credit to his pianist, Malcolm Martineau, and showed in three songs by Faure - 'Automne', 'Le secret' and 'Fleur jetee' - that he could scale down his histrionic gift and yield to the music's subtlety with a lighter, more grainy vocal quality. A real star.

Bryn Terfel's recital was given in association with Midland Bank, Wales

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders