Grieg: Lyric Pieces

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WORKS: Lyric Pieces
PERFORMER: Israela Margalit (piano)
Despite their obvious debts to Schumann’s cycles of piano pieces and Mendelssohn’s Songs without Words, Grieg’s Lyric Pieces have their own distinctive and fragile flavour, which needs the most careful tending to develop as naturally as possible in performance. Emil Gilels made a magisterial recording of a selection of them in the 1970s (DG 419 749-2) but otherwise they have remained on the periphery of the repertoire of the major pianists of our time.


Grieg returned to the form throughout his career, regularly adding new sets to the collection. The earliest, his Op. 12, datesback to 1867, but Israela Margalit’s selection ranges between theOp. 38 series, which appeared in 1884, and the very last, Op. 71, from 1901. She takes no liberties with these miniatures and is generally faithful to their spirit,but her playing too often lacks the spark of originality needed tobring them fully alive. Each piece has to be characterised instantly without approximation, and there is neither enough variety in Margalit’s range of tone, nor crispness in her articulation, to transform her good intentions into compelling acts of recreation. Andrew Clements