During the years leading up to the beginning of the 20th century, Edvard Grieg was the most significant Scandinavian composer. He was educated at the Leipzig Conservatory, where his early influences were Schubert and Schumann. Like all of his fellow countrymen of that generation, he was orientated towards Denmark, the Danish language and Danish culture in general. He spent much time in Copenhagen. Later, in his early 20s, he developed an affinity for Norwegian peasant culture thanks to the influence of the great Norwegian musician Ole Bull. That effected a major change in his musical outlook, and for the rest of his life he immersed himself in Norwegian literature and folk music. It became a major part of his artistic philosophy and placed him firmly in the ranks of the nationalist composers that characterised the second half of the 19th century.
The 4 Norwegian dances Op.35 are arrangements for piano four-hands of old folk tunes that Grieg took from a collection published by the musician and researcher Ludvig Mathias Lindeman. The composition was sketched in Copenhagen in January 1880 and brought to completion in the summer of the following year during a holiday in Lofthus.
Grieg’s Symphony in C minor EG 119 was composed in 1863–64, when Grieg was 20, and the melodies of its second and third movements later came to be known in the present arrangement for piano duet known as 2 Symphonic Pieces Op.14.
Grieg’s name is notably tied to important stage works, among them Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, one of the most performed plays in Norway. Grieg composed a score for the play of some 90 minutes of incidental music, from which he selcted the most beautiful numbers for two orchestral suites which he arranged in versions for piano solo and piano four-hands.
Grieg wrote the 2 Walzer-Capricen Op.37 for piano four hands in 1883, after he and his lyric soprano wife, Nina, had reconciled after an estrangement and were once again happy together, travelling and performing in Germany and Rome.
The 2 Nordic Melodies Op.63 were originally written for string orchestra in 1895 and published the following year along with arrangements for piano solo and piano duet. The work is dedicated to the Norwegian and Swedish ambassador to Paris Frederik Due, an enthusiastic amateur musician and composer and a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. Due sent Grieg some compositions for violin and piano, and one of his melodies appears in the first piece: ‘In Folk Style’. The second piece, comprising the ‘Cow-Call’ and ‘Peasant Dance’, is a reworking of two pieces (Nos. 18 and 22) from Grieg’s Op.17 (25 Norwegian Folk Ballads and Dances).
- Recorded October 2021 in Bernareggio, Italy
- Booklet in English contains liner notes by Paola del Negro and also the biographies of the pianists
- Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) is without doubt the most significant Norwegian composer. He was educated at the Leipzig Conservatory, where his early models were Schubert and Schumann. Later, in his early twenties, he developed an affinity for Norwegian peasant culture thanks to the influence of the great Norwegian musician Ole Bull. That effected a major change in his musical outlook, and for the rest of his life he immersed himself in Norwegian literature and folk music, placing him firmly in the ranks of the nationalist composers that characterized the second half of the 19th century. He was surrounded and fascinated by Norway’s breath-taking fjords, mountains, forests and lakes; even when not directly quoting folk materials, the harmonies, rhythms, and melodic nuances of that tradition deeply influenced his musical style and approach.
- This new recording presents Grieg’s complete works for piano 4-hands. They consist of arrangements by the composer himself of his most popular works: the two Peer Gynt Suites, the Norwegian Dances and Nordic Melodies, music of great originality, beauty and power, wonderfully written for the piano, using its full coloristic resources.
- Roberto Plano (First Prize Winner at the 2001 Cleveland International Piano Competition) and Paola del Negro have long enjoyed a fruitful duet partnership; this is their second album together for Brilliant Classics, after Schumann’s complete works for piano-duet. Plano has accumulated an impressive catalogue of recordings for the label including music by Luchesi, Piatti, Sgambati and Smetana. The Luchesi (BC95811) was reviewed in glowing terms by Classics Today: ‘this wonderful pianist’s sensitive, intelligently inflected interpretations. Plano truly makes the music sound better than it is, and his artistry holds your attention… (9/10)'.