WORKS: Lyric Pieces
PERFORMER: Leif Ove Andsnes (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 57296 2
Grieg was a miniaturist at heart, and his Lyric Pieces, stretching across almost his entire career, contain the essence of his art. The very first piece is a Mendelssohnian song without words tinged with melancholy, with its theme left hanging in mid-air. More than 30 years later, in his final piece of the kind, Grieg returned to the same melody, transforming it into a nostalgic waltz with an even more inconclusive ending. Leif Ove Andsnes has previously recorded three complete books of Lyric Pieces, but here he wisely casts his net wider, framing his recital with these outer pieces of the series. Along the way he includes such popular items as the ‘March of the Trolls’ and ‘Wedding-day at Troldhaugen’, but also some perhaps more memorable numbers – among them the Chopinesque ‘Illusion’, ‘Evening in the Mountains’, with its echoes of the shepherd’s pipe from Wagner’s Tristan, and the densely chromatic memorial piece entitled ‘Gone’.
Andsnes’s warm, sonorous performances were made on Grieg’s own mellow-sounding piano in his house outside Bergen. There have been some fine accounts of the Lyric Pieces in the past – notably a famous recording for DG by Gilels – but none more deeply satisfying than these.