This much awaited recording offers keenly idiomatic performances of the most famous works by Grieg, played by the composer’s own orchestra, the Bergen Philharmonic, and its Chief Conductor, Edward Gardner. The drama and passion of such favourite pieces as the incidental music to Peer Gynt and the Piano Concerto are superbly captured in surround-sound with exemplary Chandos sound quality. Unlike most existing recordings, offering only the orchestral suites, this disc presents numerous extra excerpts from Peer Gynt, which follow the sequence of Henrik Ibsen‘s dramatic poem, including sections for the unique Norwegian 'Hardanger Fiddle’. Having collaborated with the orchestra on several occasions, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet is the soloist in the Piano Concerto, a piece that stands out as a shining example of a single great thought captured and expressed in music. The power of this conception is evident throughout the concerto in the pianist’s faithful, yet highly romantic interpretation.
This 1990 disc featuring Grieg's Piano Concerto and Liszt's Second Piano Concerto, with six of Grieg's Lyric Pieces for solo piano, was Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes' big label debut as a soloist. It was a smash, and, as the saying goes, the rest is history. Andsnes has gone on to one of the most successful careers of any pianist of his generation. Hearing the performances in this un-remastered reissue, it's easy to understand why: Andsnes is a fire-eater of a piano player.
Structural weakness precluded Grieg's violin sonatas from being regarded as masterpieces. For instance, contrasting themes often jump from one to another without smooth transition. Yet it would be a most remorseful thing to dismiss these pieces as second-rate or mediocre, for they are among the most palatable dishes of violin music. The enchanting melodies are all of captivating beauty, and the essentially light-hearted music is in turn passionate, expressive, bittersweet, exuberant, and vigorous.
The Matangi Quartet's 2005 release Scandinavia has one slight problem: while two of the composers, Edvard Grieg and David Monrad Johansen, were Norwegian, the third, Julius Röntgen, was Dutch! His presence is explained by his close friendship with Grieg, and the Matangi Quartet's decision to include his attractive two-movement Quartettino in A minor as filler is barely justifiable through that connection. Grieg's String Quartet in G minor, Op. 27, and Johansen's String Quartet, Op. 35, both deserve their place here, not only due to their creators' nationality but because they are solid examples of quartet writing outside the German tradition, and demonstrate the Norwegian proclivity to incorporate folk-inspired melodies in looser, more sectionalized developments than are found in Classical, motivically integrated models.
One of the most successful pianists of the generation that came of age at the end of the 20th century, Leif Ove Andsnes is particularly known for his attention to the music of his native Norway. "I always played a lot of Grieg from my childhood," he has said. "I always loved Grieg and I don't know if it's only because I'm Norwegian." He entered Bergen Conservatory in 1986 and studied with Jirí Hlinka, a well-known Czech piano professor. Andsnes made his U.S. debut in 1989, appearing in New York and Washington, then traveling to Canada.
In a world full of couplings of Schumann and Grieg's Piano Concertos in A minor, this disc offers three distinct advantages. First and most obviously, it offers an additional work, Saint-Saëns' Piano Concerto in G minor, which brings the disc's total playing time up 78 minutes. Second, it offers up a soloist who's also the conductor, the multitalented Howard Shelley who directs England's Orchestra of Opera North from the keyboard.
Fans of either cellist Mstislav Rostropovich or pianist Sviatoslav Richter will have to hear the performances on this two-disc Doremi set. It contains the four pieces they performed in Moscow on March 1, 1950 Brahms' Sonata No. 1 and Beethoven's sonatas No. 3 and No. 4, plus the world premiere of Prokofiev's sonata and two of the pieces they played at the Aldeburgh Festival on June 20, 1964 Grieg's sonata as well as another Brahms' Sonata No. 1.
Vadim Repin suggests in the booklet’s notes that he and Nikolai Lugansky chose a program for their first studio recording together that mimics a recital in this case, that would be a sonata recital. This sonata the introductory passage, Lento doloroso , of Edvard Grieg’s Second Sonata displays in the duo’s performance a haunting poignancy that their energetic reading of the movement proper hardly dispels.