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Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Piano Concerto in A minor [30:48]
Lyric Pieces
Javier Perianes (piano)
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sakari Oramo
rec. 2014, live, Barbican Hall, London; Teldex Studio, Berlin. Stereo
HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902205 [70:02]

An interesting distribution of artist information: the pianist gets the inside back cover under the CD plus the CD itself, the conductor gets the inside back page of the booklet. Neither get biographies. In the case of Javier Perianes this is something of a shame because he is much less well known than Sakari Oramo. A quick search on the web reveals he is young, Spanish and clearly on his way up. I say clearly because this is a splendid CD with even the old war-horse of Grieg's concerto coming up sparkling. The BBC Radio 3 recording conveys a clean sound-picture with little sense of an acoustic space, hardly surprising given the number of mikes in use on the Barbican stage. Everything is however suitably present. All this is made clear by the powerful opening flourish, one of the most famous in the romantic repertoire. The first and second subjects are more widely separated in mood than in the classic old Solomon and Lipatti performances from which I learned this piece. Solomon is more 'classical' and restrained and Lipatti somewhat faster. Both display a more detached approach. Perianes sees the piece as a romantic outpouring giving big gestures and large contrasts of tone and dynamic. The BBCSO play with their customary skill and give no suggestion that this is their ten-thousandth time of accompanying this concerto. The adagio is a gorgeous affair giving the orchestra as much opportunity as the soloist for beautiful sounds. Grieg's finale is certainly marcato but it also swings along with great vitality. Perianes has technique in spades. His phrasing is subtle and the piano really sings in the soulful music. The cascades of notes Grieg requires at climactic moments are thrown off with considerable aplomb: very much not a casual run-through. A very nice addition to the catalogue.

The twelve Lyric Pieces are barely a fifth of those written by Grieg during all stages of his compositional life. These are recorded in the Teldex Studios, Berlin and sound very good indeed. The opening Arietta has hints of 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' but is very pretty for all that. The Kanon is gentle and reflective whilst the Butterfly flutters appealingly. The Solitary Traveller has a rocking motion and is a lovely creation. It contrasts well with the Melody a passionate piece with a great tune. The March of the Trolls is one of the handful orchestrated by Grieg: it is essentially a scherzo with an elegiac trio. The Nocturne is also one of those orchestrated and shows Grieg at his most reflective. The soulful Homesickness is another tripartite piece with a more lively central section. At your feet yearns in best romantic style and is full of nostalgia. At the cradle is of course a lullaby. After several short items Once upon a time presents a more substantial piece finding space for both an introduction and a coda around the dramatic core. The recital ends with Remembrance a sad waltz reminiscent of Sibelius' Valse Triste, which drifts gently away. These twelve pieces are much more that mere salon music. The musical values of Grieg's miniatures are very high and they deserve to be placed alongside the short works of Schumann and Debussy as amongst the best in that category of piano music.

Dave Billinge

Previous review: Dan Morgan

Contents (Lyric Pieces)
Arietta Op.12/1 [1:25]
Kanon Op.38/8 [5:00]
Butterfly Op.43/1 [1:54]
Solitary Traveller Op.43/2 [2:20]
Melody Op.47/3 [3:39]
March of the Trolls Op.54/3 [2:59]
Nocturne Op.54/4 [4:17]
Homesickness Op.57/6 [4:33]
At your feet Op.68/3 3:03]
At the cradle Op.68/5 [3:27]
Once upon a time Op.71/1 [4:36]
Remembrance Op.71/7 [1:52]



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