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Ailing Grimaud ends recital after 3 pieces

June 19, 2007|Rick Schultz | Special to The Times

A recital at Walt Disney Concert Hall by French pianist Helene Grimaud ended abruptly Sunday evening when an ailing Grimaud walked offstage after only the third piece on her program.

Adam Crane, director of public relations for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which was presenting the recital, wrote in an e-mail later Sunday that Grimaud, 37, had "said she felt dizzy and had spotty vision when she realized that she could not continue." He added that "she wanted to go back on stage, but couldn't regain enough strength to complete her program."

Grimaud was treated backstage Sunday by a Disney Hall medical technician, and Crane said Monday afternoon that after visiting the Philharmonic's regular physician earlier in the day, she had reported that the incident was related to a heart arrhythmia from which she suffers and that she planned to return to her home in Europe and consult her own doctors.

Sunday's events marked the second time this season that health problems had interfered with a Disney Hall appearance by Grimaud. Her recital had been rescheduled from its original date of Jan. 10, which she canceled because of back problems.

Grimaud, wearing a flowing white frock coat and matching pants, began her program with Busoni's transcription of Bach's Chaconne from Partita No. 2 in D minor for solo violin. She achieved affecting intimacy in what is an often overpedaled showpiece.

The Chopin Berceuse in D flat followed, performed with great delicacy. Then came Chopin's Barcarolle in F sharp, and for a while, nothing seemed amiss. But soon Grimaud's hands were no longer quite in sync, the left outrunning the right. In the final pages, she began to lose her way. But she managed to hold the musical line, and the spell cast on the audience seemed largely unbroken.

When the piece ended, however, Grimaud quickly rose with what appeared to be a look of displeasure. She made a hasty exit, seemingly ignoring the enthusiastic applause. During a long intermission, numerous concert-goers murmured their concerns that all was not well.

After audience members returned to their seats without prompting, a Philharmonic representative announced, "Ms. Grimaud is ill and unable to continue tonight's performance."

The representative said after the recital ended that an audience services representative would be contacting audience members later.

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