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Edvard GRIEG (1842 - 1907)
Concert Overture In Autumn Op. 11(1866)
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in A Op. 16 (1907)
Symphonic Dances Op. 64 (1897)
Håvard Gimse (piano)
Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Bjarte Engeset
Recorded at Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, 15 May 2003
NAXOS 6.110060 SACD [71.38]

This is the SACD of a well-received addition to the symphonic Grieg discography on Naxos. It pairs Gimse, adept in the repertoire, with Bjarte Engeset and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra playing on their home turf in Glasgow. The repertoire may well be overly familiar but the programme is still a satisfying one and makes for entertaining and imaginative listening.

In Autumn has requisite freshness and amplitude and the folk music element is well brought out. The Symphonic Dances are boldly conceived and coloured - with the winds and brass prominent in the skirl and swirl of the Allegro moderato e marcato. The limpid solo in the grazioso second movement is lovingly taken up by the strings but its perhaps most in the Allegro giocoso that we find the orchestra on crispest, brightest form; sure toned brass with tight trumpets, on the button trombones, al the contours etched with alacrity and nuance; maybe not the most sheerly affectionate reading but a finely determined one.

Which brings us to the Concerto. Nothing odd about this, just an extremely well played and buoyant performance, middle of the road in tempi and interpretation, though certainly not one that languishes unnecessarily. The first movement cadenza is good and Gimse is sufficiently sweet to add warmth to the slow movement but not too much sugar. The finale is buoyed up with idyll at its heart well projected and equally well prepared. Crisp accenting pushes this along, the lower brass braying triumphantly along the way. Fine playing all round.

I listened to the SACD on an ordinary set up though its available in three formats including CD and DVD-Audio.

Jonathan Woolf

see also review by John Phillips and Paul Shoemaker

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