MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around

  2022
 57,903 reviews
   and more ... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here
Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

 

paid for
advertisements

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews


TROUBADISC
Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews


FOGHORN Classics

Alexandra-Quartet
Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews


All HDTT reviews


Clarissa Bevilacqua plays
Augusta Read Thomas

all Nimbus reviews

Brahms Dvorak
Brahms 2 Dvorak 7
all tudor reviews

 

 


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

 

Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Loughton
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom

jonathan_woolf@yahoo.co.uk


 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers


Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews


all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews


All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews

 

Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November 2022
Bach
Bach Orchestral Suites

del Cinque
Del Cinque Cello sonatas

Fujita Mozart
Mao Fujita Mozart

Stanczyk
Stanczyk Acousmatic Music

Oropesa

October 2022

Berg Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto Elmes

DEbussy Jeux
Debussy Jeux

Romantic pioano masters
Romantic Piano Masters

The future is female - Vol 2
Volume 2 - The Dance

impromptu harp music
Complete Harp Impromptus

 


Support us financially by purchasing this from
Edvard GRIEG (1845-1907)
Lyric Pieces
Stephen Hough (piano)
rec. 2014, St George’s, Brandon Hill, Bristol, U.K.
HYPERION CDA68070 [73:08]

There are ten volumes of Edvard Grieg’s Lyric Pieces and the best of these short pieces have entered the repertoire as justifiably popular works, though their relative technical simplicity meant that in the past only a few pianists took them seriously as concert works. The booklet notes for this release open with the admiring words Tchaikovsky had for Grieg, and Brahms was also a friend who held him in high regard. This kind of collection reminds us that there is much more to Grieg than the Piano Concerto and highlights from Peer Gynt.

Any recording of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces will inevitably come up in comparison against the classic Deutsche Grammophon recording made by Emil Gilels in 1974. Both begin with the Arietta which is the very first of the first book, but if you are used to the poetry of Gilels’ reading then you will need to adjust your expectations when embarking on Stephen Hough’s collection. His Arietta is swifter, but filled with rubato and expressive inflections which add all kinds of extra detail and, alas, baggage not wanted on voyage. I’m all for the individual touch and for personal expressiveness, but this is one little piece which is most memorable for its disarming simplicity. It is the touch of the pianist rather than the addition of interpretational nuance which delivers its song, and for my taste it is Gilels who gets it right. Hough cleverly frames his selection by concluding with Remembrances as a final track, which is a variation on the Arietta. This waltz version can handle its teasing time-stretching with ease, but even this gentle finale doesn’t excuse the opening.

The opening Arietta is just one little piece of not much more than a minute’s duration, but it set my alarm status to pink-alert at the start. Fortunately any concerns were soon diffused by the character and sheer sense of warmth and empathy emanating from the pieces further along. I fear the pearlescent touch of Gilels will forever have spoilt me for whoever comes after, but Hough is amongst the cream of an increasingly rich crop of choices. For a complete Lyric Pieces you might want to turn to Aldo Ciccolini, whose three CD set for Cascavelle is very good indeed (review). Naxos has some nice recordings with Einar Steen-Nokleberg giving sterling if not very poetic service on 8.553394 and 8.553396, and the Amadis label also has a complete set played by Marian Lapsansky, though this is another example where pianism all too often takes precedence over lyricism.

Thus re-orientated, you can return to Stephen Hough and truly appreciate where he approaches the essence of Grieg rather than demonstrating prowess at the keyboard. There is a quality of holding back and of power in reserve, even where there might appear to be licence for more explosive pianism. The Wagnerian touch to Erotikon for instance, is filled with colour, but this and other climaxes are held in proportion to the brief duration of the piece, the music gaining in texture for not being forced, the sonority created by dynamic contrast and Grieg’s exploration of the character of the instrument in its different registers sufficient to create all of the effect which is required. That’s not to say that there is no excitement here, evidenced by the impact of the following piece To Spring or further along in From early years.

The choice of pieces is very nice for this release, combining popular and famous works such as the March of the Trolls with less frequently played but often more fascinating pieces. I had for instance forgotten how gripping the tonal strangeness of the Valse-impromptu can be, or the surprising slipperiness of the Sylph. Even where the music has melancholy overtones you sense a creative joy from the composer and from the pianist, the means given for expressing Homesickness or other aspects of longing or regret a source of strength as well as a place to allow sad feelings to live without seeing them taking over our lives entirely.

Superbly recorded in the rich but not overbearingly resonant St George’s, Brandon Hill in Bristol, this is a highly attractive and deeply desirable collection of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces. I’m sure no-one will mind if I start my listening from track 2, but I can assure fans and newcomers alike that this is a disc to treasure.

Dominy Clements
 
Contents
Arietta (No 1 from Lyric Pieces Book 1, Op 12) [1:09]
Vuggevise (No 1, 'Berceuse' from Lyric Pieces Book 2, Op 38) [2:33]
Elegi (No 6, 'Elegy' from Lyric Pieces Book 2, Op 38) [2:27]
Sommerfugl (No 1, 'Butterfly' from Lyric Pieces Book 3, Op 43) [1:44]
Ensom vandrer (No 2, 'Solitary traveller' from Lyric Pieces Book 3, Op 43) [1:41]
I hjemmet (No 3, 'In my native country' from Lyric Pieces Book 3, Op 43) [1:47]
Småfugl (No 4, 'Little bird' from Lyric Pieces Book 3, Op 43)[1:39]
Erotikk (No 5, 'Erotikon' from Lyric Pieces Book 3, Op 43) [2:23]
Til våren (No 6, 'To spring' from Lyric Pieces Book 3, Op 43) [3:07]
Valse-impromptu (No 1 of Lyric Pieces Book 4, Op 47) [3:23]
Melodi (No 3, 'Melody' from Lyric Pieces Book 4, Op 47) [2:46]
Elegi (No 7, 'Elegy' from Lyric Pieces Book 4, Op 47) [3:11]
Trolltog (No 3, 'March of the trolls' from Lyric Pieces Book 5, Op 54) [3:00]
Notturno (No 4 of Lyric Pieces Book 5, Op 54) [3:54]
Klokkeklang (No 6, 'Bell ringing' from Lyric Pieces Book 5, Op 54) [3:31]
Hjemve (No 6, 'Homesickness' from Lyric Pieces Book 6, Op 57) [3:36]
Sylfide (No 1, 'Sylph' from Lyric Pieces Book 7, Op 62) [1:27]
Hjemad (No 6, 'Homeward' from Lyric Pieces Book 7, Op 62) [3:03]
Fra ungdomsdagene (No 1, 'From early years' from Lyric Pieces Book 8, Op 65) [4:47]
Salong (No 4, 'Salon' from Lyric Pieces Book 8, Op 65) [2:09]
Bryllupsday på Troldhaugen (No 6, 'Wedding day at Troldhaugen' from Lyric Pieces Book 8, Op 65) [5:58]
Bestemors menuett (No 2, 'Grandmother's minuet' from Lyric Pieces Book 9, Op 68) [2:12]
For dine fötter (No 3, 'At your feet' from Lyric Pieces Book 9, Op 68) [3:11]
Bådnlåt (No 5, 'At the cradle' from Lyric Pieces Book 9, Op 68) [2:26]
Sommeraften (No 2, 'Summer's eve' from Lyric Pieces Book 10, Op 71) [2:17]
Småtroll (No 3, 'Puck' from Lyric Pieces Book 10, Op 71) [1:55]
Efterklang (No 7, 'Remembrances' from Lyric Pieces Book 10, Op 71) [1:51]