The work is among Grieg’s earliest important works, being written in 1868 in Sollerod in Denmark, during one of Grieg’s visits there to benefit from the warmer climate than that of his native Norway. It is written for solo piano, two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, violins, violas, cellos and double basses. It is in three movements: 1. Allegro molto moderato 2. Adagio 3. Allegro moderato molto e marcato Grieg’s concerto is often compared to the Piano Concerto of Robert Schumann ? it is in the same key, the opening descending flourish on the piano is similar, and the overall style is considered to be closer to Schumann than any other single composer. Grieg had heard Schumann’s concerto played by Clara Schumann in Leipzig in 1858, and was greatly influenced by Schumann’s style generally, having been taught the piano by Schumann’s friend, Ernst Ferdinand Wenzel. Compact Disc recordings often pair the two concertos. Additionally, Grieg’s work provides evidence of his interest in Norwegian folk music ? the opening flourish is based around the motif of a falling second (see interval) followed by a falling third, which is typical of the folk music of Grieg’s native country. This specific motif occurs in other works by Grieg, including the String Quartet. In the last movement of the concerto, similarities to the halling (a Norwegian folk dance) and imitations of the Hardanger fiddle (the Norwegian folk fiddle) have been detected. Grieg himself was a good pianist but the work was premiered by Edmund Neupert on April 3, 1869 in Copenhagen. Grieg was unable to attend the premiere owing to commitments with an orchestra in Christiania (now Oslo). Among those who did attend the premiere were the Danish composer Niels Gade and the Russian pianist Anton Rubinstein. The Norwegian premiere in Kristiania followed on August 7, 1869, and the piece was later heard in Germany in 1872 and England in 1874.
The Estrem and Holmquist guitar duo (active from 1971-1988) performs a program of Estrem’s transcriptions of 11 Lyric Pieces and the Holberg Suite by Edvard Grieg. The music was originally for piano, and transfers successfully to the medium of guitar duets. Grieg created a world of intimacy and lyricism that is well represented on the classic guitar. The instrument has the ability to project colors and shadings not possible on the keyboard. Also, most of the brief motifs used in the Lyric Pieces are taken from Scandinavian folk music, and the guitar has its own special charm with folk rhythms and melodies.
This album was recorded in an acoustically-live stone church in 1980, released on vinyl but was never re-released as a CD. The master tape was lost, but now 30 years later, with the advances in digital restoration of vinyl albums, this gem of a recording is reborn.
“This music speaks to the heart, and the rapport and sensitivity of the performers recalls the eminent duo of Presti and Lagoya.”
Guitar Player magazine
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