ALBUM TITLE: Grieg
WORKS: Ballad for Edvard Grieg: Ballade in G minor; Piano Concerto; Lyric pieces from Troldhaugen etc.
PERFORMER: Leif Ove Andsnes (piano)
Bergen PO/Ole Kristian Ruud
CATALOGUE NO: 5121289
Grieg never gave a public recital of his Ballade in G minor: as this DVD never tires of telling us, it was too closely associated in his mind with the deaths of his parents – and, as Leif Ove Andsnes observes at one point, it may have been technically too demanding for him. Much is made of Andsnes’s own tardiness in learning it – we are not told exactly why, but we are invited to share his ‘quest’ for the meaning of this music, in the course of a year-long peregrination across Europe.First stop Leipzig, where the ‘headstrong, rebellious’ young Grieg first studied, then we visit Copenhagen which he fell in love with – as has Andsnes, as his palatial apartment suggests – then back to Grieg’s base in Bergen, where we are shown the frog-amulet he stroked to calm pre-concert nerves. More than 50 minutes of this DVD are devoted to a promotional travelogue of such cliché-ridden relentlessness that one longs for the solace of music,but when we finally get the G minor Ballade played clean and clear, it’s nothing short of a let-down. It aspires to the condition of Rachmaninov’s great sets of variations, but simply doesn’t get there – it remains stubbornly earthbound, climaxing in a display of bombast which Andsnes seems powerless to disguise. The rest of the DVD is a pleasant canter through Grieg’s greatest hits – the Concerto and the Lyric Pieces – which Andsnes delivers with his usual infectious charm.