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Mozart and Grieg for piano four hands
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) piano II part arr. Edvard Grieg
CD 1
Sonata in C major, KV 545 ‘Sonata facile’ (1788) [13.15]
Sonata in G major, KV 283 (1775) [21.59]
Sonata in F major, KV 533 (1788) [19.47]
CD 2
Fantasia in C minor, KV 475 (1785) [14.56]
Sonata in C minor, KV 457 (1784) [25.28]
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 Op. 46 (c. 1888) (arranged for piano four hands) [15.37]
Peer Gynt Suite No. 2 Op. 55 (c. 1891) (arranged for piano four hands) [17.02]
Evelinde Trenkner; Sontraud Speidel (piano duo)
rec. 13-15 February, 2 June 2005, Furstliche Reitbahn, Bad Arolsen, Germany. DDD
MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM CD MDG 330 1382-2 SACD 930 1382-6.[62.50 + 73.09]

Independent German label MDG have released this new double CD set featuring Mozart Piano Sonatas with additionally composed Piano II 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 a 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. The booklet 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 phrases. ... 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 orchestral suite, Op. 46 in 1888 for a concert performance in Leipzig. A second orchestral suite, Op. 55 followed in 1891. The music 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 475.
 
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 the 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 the highlight 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.
 
Michael Cookson
 

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