Independent German label MDG have released this new
double CD set featuring Mozart Piano Sonatas with additionally
accompaniment by Grieg. The disc also includes Grieg’s
arrangements for piano four hands of his first and second Peer Gynt suites.
The Trenkner and Speidel duo specialise in performing
long-neglected four hand piano transcriptions of important
works from the great masters. Trenkner and Speidel have
performed recitals in the many of the world’s greatest concert
venues, with masterworks such as Mahler 6 and 7 at the
New York, Lincoln Center and Bruckner 3 at the Bayreuth festival.
Their credentials are impeccable. The Weimar-born Trenkner
studied with Walter Gieseking and Wilhelm Kempff and is
professor at the Academy of Music Lübeck. Speidel was born
in Karlsruhe and studied under Yvonne Loriod and Geza Anda.
Trenkner is a professor at the Karlsruhe Music Academy and
a visiting professor at the University of Montreal, the Rubin
Academy of Music in Tel Aviv and the California State University.
Grieg revered the genius of Mozart and in 1877 as a
token of his admiration offered to his publisher Max Abraham
in Leipzig, “Four Piano Sonatas by Mozart with the freely
additionally composed accompaniment of a second piano by
Edvard Grieg.” Grieg’s arrangements, which were originally
intended for instruction purposes, were rejected by his
publisher only to be published by Fritzsch two years later.
notes state that Grieg, “complemented Mozart’s original
precise indications of articulation and dynamics and added
a second piano illustrating the interpretive aids supplied
by such indications. The second piano plays a supporting
role with fine accents, developments are underscored, and
the sound in part is reinforced by octaves, so that the
dynamic differences are brought out more and the piano
sound is endowed
with greater brilliance ... Grieg also heightened
the motivic intensity by having the second piano repeat
motifs and/or bridge over rests in the first piano with
... Transcending Mozart’s musical language, Grieg thickened
the harmony with chromatic counter voices and intermediary
notes and modified the textual and tonal picture with lavish
ornamentations and embellishments; adapting the scores
to his own taste and times.”
Grieg’s incidental music to Henrik Ibsen’s drama Peer
Gynt Op. 23 was composed during 1874-75 and premièred
in 1876 at Oslo. The composer was not entirely satisfied
with the score and ten years later reworked it for a
performance in Copenhagen. He then compiled his first
Op. 46 in 1888 for a concert performance in Leipzig.
A second orchestral suite, Op. 55 followed in 1891. The
to Peer Gynt had consolidated Grieg’s reputation
as an composer of world renown and the two Peer Gynt suites served
to increased his popularity. It seemed natural for Grieg
to make two-hand and four-hand piano arrangements of the
suites to make the music accessible to a wider audience.
Trenkner and Speidel are impressive interpreters of
these scores. In the Sonata KV 545 which
was published as ‘the little keyboard sonata for beginners’ they
brush aside the memory of mistreatment from generations of
reluctant children and provide an interpretation that blends
ethereal lightness and sturdiness. I especially enjoyed the
duo’s spellbinding playing in the enchanting moods, captivating
thoughts and feelings of the extended andante of the Sonata KV
283. In the Sonata KV 533 Trenkner and Speidel provide
impressive force and power in the opening allegro,
profound emotion in the lengthy andante molto and
mischievousness in the playful rondo-allegretto. The
duo provide a marvellous blend of dramatic quality and intensity
of feeling in the subtle and constantly changing moods of
the closely related Sonata KV 457 and the Fantasia KV
Trenkner and Speidel perform the Grieg suites with
such a high degree of empathy it is as if the music had
been composed especially for them. I particularly enjoyed
interpretation of the opening ‘Morning-mood’ which
comes across as a convincing representation of a nature
picture of morning. ‘Anitra’s Dance’ is performed
with an exciting oriental flavour. In the second suite
is ‘Solvejg’s song’, undoubtedly one of Grieg’s
finest melodic pages, which is performed with a memorable
sense of nostalgic lyricism.
I played this SACD on my standard CD players and the
sound quality achieved by the MDG engineers approaches demonstration
standard. In this well presented release the booklet notes
are highly informative.
MDG have picked a winning combination with the supreme
talents of Trenkner and Speidel.