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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Poetic Tone-Pictures, op.3
Sonata, op.7
Seven Fugues for Piano
Four Pieces, op.1
Four Album Leaves, op.28

Kyoko Tabe, piano
Recorded Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester, 28th-30th September 2001
CHANDOS CHAN 9985 [73:09]


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The revival of interest in Grieg’s music, which has been gathering momentum for some little time now, continues with this attractive issue from Chandos. All the music is relatively early, from the Seven Fugues of 1861-2, which have no opus number, to the Four Album Leaves, which, though published in 1878, contain music from as far back as 1864.

Everything here is worth listening to, though of course the fine sonata is the most substantial work. As you might expect, it shows throughout the influence of, especially, Chopin and Schumann. Grieg’s own personality shines through strongly in many places, though; perhaps most of all in the galloping finale. Here Grieg asks a lot of his pianist – and the piano – in terms of sheer power of tone; indeed, you feel that the music is orchestrally conceived in many places. Here, as elsewhere, Kyoko Tabe, the Japanese soloist, plays with great technical assurance, and clearly relishes the wildly extravert character of much of this piece.

The Seven Fugues are a curiosity, but they do indicate Grieg’s excellent technique in handling a complex form such as fugue, and the themes on which the pieces are based have an individuality that prevents them from being mere clones of JSB. The other three sets recorded here, op.1, op.3 and op.28, are all similar to the kind of thing Grieg did so well in the various sets of Lyric Pieces, and many of them are enchanting. Listen to the relaxed folk-dance rhythms of op.3 no.5, veering between major and minor, and bringing Dvořák to mind; or the gentle Chopinesque melancholy of op.1 no.2; or the evocation of the distant sound of that wonderful Norwegian folk instrument, the Hardanger fiddle, in the middle of the final number of op.28.

Even in this music from early in his career, Grieg’s expressive range and the fertility of his imagination come over strongly, and Tabe is always a sensitive, responsive interpreter. I hope that Chandos will find her the opportunity to continue her exploration of the Grieg repertoire.

Gwyn Parry-Jones


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