WORKS: Piano Sonata in E minor; Ballade in G minor; Holberg Suite; Lyric Pieces (excerpts)
PERFORMER: Peter Jablonski (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 455 631-2
Grieg was essentially a miniaturist, short on the sense of organic development necessary to make a large-scale structure cohere. Strangely, one of his few real successes in large-scale planning is a set of variations – the so-called Ballade, Op. 24 – which has a cumulative flow and a well-placed climax. The Sonata lacks the close-knit construction such a work demands, and its two inner movements sound more like unrelated, individual pieces than crucial elements in a four-movement design.
Jablonski plays the original version of the Sonata, restoring the 25 bars usually cut from the first section of the finale, and honouring Grieg’s original intentions for the slow movement’s dynamics. The style is right, though the minuet is on the slow side. The Holberg Suite is more familiar in its later incarnation for string orchestra, but Jablonski makes a strong case for the piano version, with a shimmering accompaniment in the Praeludium, sensitive phrasing and nice changes of tone in the Sarabande, sparkle and contrast in the final Rigaudon. The Ballade unfolds purposefully in his hands, and his choice from the vast number of Lyric Pieces, encompassing a soulful Notturno and a teasing Puck, is an enticing dip into the pool. Wadham Sutton