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Grieg Lyric Pieces & Slåtter

Lyric Pieces
At the Cradle · Homeward · Bell Ringing · Gratitude · Puck · Shepherd boy · Gangar · Notturno · Lonely Wanderer · Wedding Day at Troldhaugen · Once upon a time · Butterfly · Evening in the Mountains · From Early Years · Gade · Folk Song · Halling · Arietta

Liv Glaser, Érard piano (London 1853)

Simax PSC 1291 (UK distributor New Note)

This is an exciting surprise. The piano concerto and Peer Gynt music apart, Grieg's music has never achieved a secure place in the repertoire. The Lyric Pieces (many of them technically easy) are sometimes taught to piano pupils; I was urged by an enthusiastic teacher to savour the harmonies as something quite extraordinary. One thing that goes against them is that many have a too simple A - B - A form, with the first sections repeated exactly, not developed.

Liv Glazer persuades you that you are glad to hear those opening passages again. Her introduction takes her back to the poor reputation of those pieces in her childhood, condemned "with haughty disdain" because of their then popularity. She links Grieg with Debussy, both keen on titles (though Debussy adds them to his Preludes at the ends of the scores) - she points to Grieg's Bell Ringing as anticipating Debussy's Submerged Cathedral.

What makes this CD uniquely important is Glazer's choice of a contemporary piano, one which colours the various registers, soprano, tenor & bass; exploited by Grieg but lost on a modern piano. Having studied first with such as Riefling, Perlemuter, Kabos and Kempff, and latterly with Badura-Skoda and Malcolm Bilson, Glaser is a well equipped guide into the mysteries of early pianos, subsequently making a major contribution to the performance, interpretation and listening to music composed for instruments of former times.

Liv Glazer brings her selection of Lyric Pieces to new life; recommended as an ear-opener.

Grieg Slåtter op. 72

1. Gibøen’s Bridal March 2. Jon Vestafe’s Springar 3. Wedding March from Telemark 4. Folkdance from the Hills 5. Folkdance from Os 6. Folkdance after Myllarguten 7. Røtnams-Knut from Hallingdal 8. Wedding March after Myllarguten 9. Nils Rekve’s Halling 10 Knut Luråsen’s Halling I 11 Knut Luråsen’s Halling II 12. Springar after Myllarguten 13. Håvar Gibøen’s Dream at the Oterholt Bridge 14. Wedding Procession at Vossevangen 15. The Bride from Skuldal 16. The Kvivle Maidens (Springar) 17. The Kvivle Maidens (Gangar)
18 – 34: version for Hardanger Fiddle (Knut Dahle)
35. Wax roll recording of Knut Dahle

Åshild & Ingfrid Breie Nyhus (Hardanger fiddle & piano);
Knut Dahle (Hardanger fiddle)

Simax PSC 1287 (UK distributor New Note)

The Nyhus sisters Ingfrid & Åshild have collaborated in a delightful and valuable project, Ingfrid Breie Nyhus playing these famous pieces on Grieg's own c. 1900 piano in a revised edition of op. 72, based on new transcriptions of the original material.

Åshild Breie Nyhus (violinist and Hardanger fiddle soloist) went back to the early recordings on wax rolls of the fiddler Knut Dahle (1834–1921) who is also featured himself on one track.

The story of how Grieg persuaded, cajoled and achieved the transcriptions which were the basis of the publication for pano makes for touching reading, and it is all set out really elegantly in the Simax booklet.

A rare novelty for all World Music enthusiasts and many of the rest of us too. Recommended unreservedly.

Peter Grahame Woolf