The composer Edvard Grieg was at the forefront of a flourishing of creativity that took place in Scandinavian culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, alongside his contemporaries, Nielsen and Sibelius. His imagination was particularly fired by the folk music and stories of his native Norway; it is, therefore, unsurprising that the music that resulted from this passion is some of his most popular with listeners.
One such example is Peer Gynt, incidental music composed for Henrik Ibsen’s play, based on the Norwegian folk tale Per Gynt. Although the play itself met with a mixed reception, Grieg’s music, extracted and turned into two orchestral suites in 1888 and 1891, has become a staple of the concert hall – there cannot be many listeners unfamiliar with the fantastical sounds of ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ or the sublime evocation of sunrise in ‘Morning Mood’.
Also included in this collection are selections from Grieg’s charming Lyric Pieces, a set of 66 piano pieces composed between 1867 and 1901, that have proved firm favourites with both pianists and audiences since. Among the choices are folk dances (‘Halling’), traditional piano miniatures (‘Berceuse’, ‘Arietta’, ‘Notturno’) and programmatic evocations (‘Butterfly’, ‘Solitary Wanderer’, ‘March of the Trolls’). Given sparkling performances by Grieg’s countryman Håkon Austbø, the Lyric Pieces demonstrate Grieg’s mastery of small-scale, solo forms, a fitting parallel to his orchestral works.
- Recordings made in 1993, London (Peer Gynt Suites) and 2001, The Netherlands (Lyric Pieces).
- Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suites count among the Classic’s best loved works: who doesn’t know the serene tune of Morning (many times used in films and commercials)? Who doesn’t shed a tear with Aase’s Tod? Who can resist the seductive exotism of Anitra’s Dance? - This fine performance of the two Peer Gynt Suites by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Mark Ermler is “filled up” with a generous selection of Lyric Pieces, attractive short piano pieces evoking the Norwegian world of Elves and Trolls; highly imaginative and “authentic” playing by Norwegian pianist Hakon Austbö.
- Liner notes included.