In an interview of Helene Grimaud, concerning her album “Credo” she stated that the music was not chosen for technical flash and virtousity, (which Grimaud is known to possess in abundance), but for the "illumination of the spirit of the of the music".
In that context, the wording is (to me at least) somewhat ambiguous. Choosing music because of its "illumination of the spirit of the music" is circular. But was she talking about the “spirit of the music” or was she referring to an “Illumination of the Spirit" that this particular music yields? If so what then does she mean by "the spirit"? Leaving religion and God out of it, as Grimaud was specific on that point, this gets into something almost ineffable... but I think it is a thing that is easily comprehended by listening to Kreizburg’s PentaTone recording of Bruckner’s 7th symphony.
Ineffable yes, but something in Keats’ "Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty" linked with Christ’s "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make ye free" resonates with this sense of "Illumination of the Spirit" as reflected by both by the above mentioned Bruckner and Helene Grimaud's performances on the record "Credo", also a performance I heard by Hilary Hahn of the first Prokofiev concerto, (what a surprise that what I always enjoyed as primarily a virtuoso’s show piece, should be revealed as sublimely lovely). A performance by the Vienna Philharmonic under Abbado doing the Bruckner 4th in Boston’s Symphony Hall maybe 8-10 years ago also comes to mind.
This “Illumination of the Spirit by the music” as Grimaud puts it, strikes me as similar to, and is for me, a rather more potent sense of the numenous that was engendered during a visit to Yosemite, and to other wild and lonely vistas. A coworker at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation referred to such places (places that generally can be dispassionately described as massive granite outcroppings) as "places of power". Her description at the time seemed a little over the top, as well as too influenced by the likes of Carlos Casteneda, but I think I know why she thought that way.
Experiencing Bruckners 4th or 7th under the right circumstances of acoustic and performance, or Hilary Hahn's Prokofiev, has been like visiting such a "place of power", one directly experiences a sense of “touching the numenous”.
Grimaud’s disc is a carefully crafted alternative and more thought provoking approach to achieve this same experience. The works chosen, the order of performance, and specifically her swirling performance of the last movement of the Tempest Sonata, prepare us for the Choral Fantasy, Beethoven’s early statement of ideas expressed in the Ninth Symphony, which in turn sets us up to be even more brutalized by Part's eruption of chaos, pain, [or is it to be interpreted as some malevolent manifestation of evil(?)] that comes just before the peaceful and healing resolution brought by Part’s treatment of the Bach Prelude that concludes his work "Credo" and concludes this amazing disc.
I am curious to know what others may think!