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Cat. No. CHAN 10175 X Price: £7 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10175 - Grieg: Peer Gynt Suites/ Lyric Suite/Piano Concerto
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Available From: 09 February 2004
In 1874 Grieg received a letter from Henrik Ibsen, informing him that Peer Gynt, already in its third edition as a literary work, was being recast by its author for the stage, and asking Grieg to provide the incidental music. Grieg was pleased to be asked but had trouble initially in summoning up any real enthusiasm, for he referred to Peer Gynt as a great literary work but ‘the most unmusical of all subjects’. Nevertheless, the collaboration produced some of the greatest music of the romantic era. The play, premiered in 1875 in Christiania, was an enormous success, receiving thirty-seven performances before a fire destroyed both scenery and costumes. It was revived in 1885 in Copenhagen and in 1902 in Christiania. Each time Grieg was asked to add further incidental music and Ibsen stated that Grieg’s music was a major factor in the work’s success. After the Copenhagen revival Grieg assembled four of the more extended numbers as Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, putting together a second suite in 1891. This suite, which contained the famous ‘Solveig’s Song’, was performed around the world and brought Grieg both fame and financial advantage.

Although Grieg excelled in writing small-scale pieces, his only piano concerto has proved to be one of the most popular of the romantic repertoire. He was essentially a pianist, but a fine orchestrator nonetheless. The concerto is modelled on Schumann’s in the same key, A minor, and the similarity is immediately apparent in the opening flourish for the piano, the written-out cadenza and the coda in quicker tempo. However, though the format may resemble Schumann’s, the ideas and abundant melodies are highly individual and instantly recognisable as Grieg’s own.

'As a well-filled, single-disc collection of Grieg's Greatest Hits, this is a great buy.'
American Record Guide


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