Grieg: Moods, Op. 73; 23 Short Pieces

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COMPOSERS: Grieg
LABELS: Victoria
WORKS: Moods, Op. 73; 23 Short Pieces
PERFORMER: Geir Henning Braaten (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: VCD 19034 DDD
‘To be destroyed after my death. Must never be printed.’ So reads the inscription on the manuscript of Grieg’s 23 Short Pieces for solo piano. But the temptation, in the composer’s 150th anniversary year, was too great, and these works by the 15-year-old Grieg have now been both published and recorded.

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They are delightful pieces foreshadowing Grieg’s later mastery as a miniaturist and mood-painter (the Piano Concerto notwithstanding). Though they include a Chopinesque dance movement, one or two in sturdy peasant mode à la Schumann, and a neo-Bachian two-part invention, they are not mere pastiche: rather the styles of revered masters seen through the eyes of a budding genius.

The virtuosic study, No. 5 of Moods, Op. 73, from Grieg’s later life (1901-5), is a case of Chopin revisited, while the folkish colouring of several pieces illustrates the characteristic style of Grieg’s maturity.

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Braaten, who gave the first public performance of the 23 Short Pieces at the Bergen Festival in June, is responsive to the lyrical impulse of both sets. The disc is another valuable addition to Victoria’s Grieg Edition, a 24-CD collection of all the piano works, songs and chamber music – Grieg at his finest – due for completion later this year. Barry Millington