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Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Orchestrated Piano Pieces
Slåtter, Op. 72 (arr. O. Sommerfeldt)
1) No. 8. Bruremarsch (etter Myllarguten) (Wedding March after Myllarguten)
2) No. 4. Haugelat: Halling (Halling from The Fairy Hill)
3) No 2. John Vestafes springdans (Jon Vestafe's Springar)
Norwegian Dances  Op. 35 (arr. H. Sitt)
4) No. 1. Allegro marcato
5) No. 2. Allegretto tranquillo e grazioso
6) No. 3. Allegro moderato alla marcia
7) No. 4. Allegro molto
8) Funeral March in Memory of Rikard Nordraak, EG 107 (arr. J. Halvorsen)
9) Folkelivsbilleder, Op. 19: No. 2. Brudefolget drager forbi (Bridal Procession) (arr. J. Halvorsen)
10) Ballade, Op. 24 (arr. G. Tveitt)
11) Lyric Pieces, Book 5, Op. 54: No. 6. Klokkeklang (Ringing Bells) (arr. E. Grieg and A. Seidl)
Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Bjarte Engeset
rec. Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, 2-3 May 2005. DDD
NAXOS 8.557854 [62:11] 


Most of Grieg's works involve the piano, either in the form of songs, piano music or chamber music. Many of these works have proved irresistible to orchestrators, to say nothing of the composer himself as orchestrator. On this disc we have music that was written for the piano and well-known as such, but later orchestrated by others, or in one case orchestrated by another hand and then revised by Grieg. 

The march for Grieg's friend Nordraak exists in several versions by the composer, but this one is by another friend of Grieg - the composer Halvorsen - and it is certainly the best-known. The performance is quite impressive with beautiful playing by the RSNO. The Bridal Procession is best known not as an original piece, but as material added to the Peer Gynt music. It was also scored by Delius. Again Engeset gets powerful playing from his orchestra and in addition the recording is more subtle than that accorded to the Nordraak march. In terms of performance the rather slight Bell-Ringing is still the high-light of the disc so perfect is it in execution.

The Norwegian Dances are among the composer's best-loved works and many people have worked on them in one way or another, ranging from the American conductor Frank van der Stucken to the Dane Robert Henriques. Grieg was not thrilled about the publisher's choice of Hans Sitt to orchestrate them, but his is the version best known and the one we hear on this disc. Overall, Engeset takes many of the tempi too fast for my taste, at least in the first two Dances. However, the same control of the orchestra I pointed out above is just as manifest here, as is the orchestral performance. In the third and fourth Dance he has things exactly right, although somewhat let down by the engineers. 

Slåtter Op. 72 are folk tunes that were expanded by Grieg. These and many more were orchestrated by Oistein Sommerfeldt, as were many of Grieg's songs. The third tune on this disc is notable for a sprightly performance by the concertmaster. The most substantial work on this disc and the composer's most substantial piano work is the Ballade Op. 24. The composer Geirr Tveitt arranged the work and almost transformed it by ably balancing its aspects of variation form and symphonic poem, producing what is basically a new Grieg orchestral work. The performance here also pays attention to that duality, producing individual variations that are well-differentiated within a larger structure. 

Several times while listening to this disc I had the reaction "... this is how Grieg should sound ..." Engeset's firm control over what sounds like a Norwegian orchestra produces Grieg that would be hard to beat. The major drawback is the recording, which is frequently quite skilful, but often blaring and disruptive to listening. Otherwise, another winner for Naxos.

William Kreindler 

see also Review by Göran Forsling



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