Edvard GRIEG (1843 - 1907)
Holberg Suite Op.40 (1884) [16:16]
Piano Sonata in E minor Op.7 (1865 rev. 1887) [15:43]
Lyric Pieces (1867-1901)
Wedding Day at Troldhaugen Op.65/6 [5:00]
The Little Troll (‘Puck’) Op.71/3 [1:45]
Notturno Op.54/4 [3:01]
March of the Trolls (‘Dwarves’) Op. 54/3 [2:50]
To Spring Op.43/6 [3:11]
Butterfly Op.43/1 [1:44]
Birdie Op.43/4 [1:48]
Dance of the Elves Op.12/4 [0:57]
Niels Gade Op.57/2 [3:11]
Canon Op.38/8 [3:13]
Arietta Op.12/1 [1:03]
Findlay Cockrell (piano)
rec. 1994, Cotton Hill Studios, Albany, NY

The actual title of the disc is ‘It’s Grieg to Me’ and sports a cartoon of the composer and his dancing puppet, the pianist Findlay Cockrell. Cockrell grins from ear to ear – the faces of both men by the way are photographic, their bodies drawn – and he appears to be dancing to Grieg’s tune with considerable vim and vigour.

Cockrell released these performances on cassette back in 1994 and they have now been remastered for CD on his own label, hence the quixotic artwork. He has also grouped some of the Lyric Pieces into suites of his own devising – ‘Troll Suite’. ‘Spring Suite’ and, where he has given up on this idea, just ‘More Lyric Pieces’, which is commendably to the point.

Now retired from his teaching commitments – he also performs extensively - he has begun recording again, though clearly this disc isn’t part of that tranche of new performances.

He’s an assured, largely unmannered Grieg performer, with tonal weight orientated more to the treble. That at least is largely a function of the recording. He starts with Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, dispatched with avuncular elegance though without Percy Grainger’s ebullience and Tchaikovskian depth of chording. The Arietta, a lovely piece, is taken in a rather robust, no-nonsense sort of way. Some may well prefer the greater warmth and tonal breadth of the young, short-lived Richard Farrell [Atoll ACD208]. To some degree I think the recording is to blame for converting the inherent qualities of the playing into a rather over-bright spectrum. That hobbles Niels Gade, for me at least, and the crispness produced, and quite fastish tempo, lack Farrell’s bass warmth. I’m not wholly convinced by Butterfly Op.43/1 which rather lacks the kind of flow necessary to keep the music truly aerial; Farrell convinces me.

The Op.7 Sonata produces some good things. It’s certainly not played and recorded as often as perhaps it should, and Cockrell’s reluctance to dawdle or to indulge pays dividends. He plays in a crisp, athletic and assertive way. Outer movements are lissom, the slow movement kept on the move to its advantage. He also adds the Holberg Suite, which is heard infrequently in its original version for piano. This generates some of his best playing; good finger clarity, fine rhythm, robustly energetic and very communicative.

Jonathan Woolf

Good finger clarity, fine rhythm, robustly energetic and very communicative.