Notes and Editorial Reviews
With exemplary playing from Gerhard Oppitz, this set will appeal to all lovers of romantic piano music.
This exemplary recording by Gerhard Oppitz of the complete solo piano music of Edvard Grieg was made in 1992. I say "exemplary" because while Herr Oppitz plays it all very well, he does not erase the memory of superb individual recordings (of the Lyric Pieces especially) played by others (Walter Gieseking, Emil Gilels and Daniel Barenboim, to name but three).
...I wish to single out the [1st] disc because it is pivotal, the Nordic Folksongs and Dances, op 17, written just after the beloved piano concerto in a minor, op 16, are required listening for those enamored of its sweeping majesty. The
disc concludes with the Ballade in g minor, one of Grieg’s most important works. Nearly nineteen minutes in length, it is the most substantial track in the entire set. Listen as the elegiac central theme in the variations becomes dramatically intensified and dies away to quiet resignation. I have played this piece for friends who attend piano recitals frequently and asked them to name the composer. Liszt, Brahms, and even late Robert Schumann have been just some of the responses from those unfamiliar with the work.
Those with an affinity for Grieg’s songs will find themselves longing for the vocal parts while listening to the last twelve tracks of Disc 5. The most well known are To Spring, I Love Thee and Solveig’s Song from Peer Gynt.
...The nineteen Norwegian Folkdances and seventeen Norwegian Peasant Dances which occupy the 37 tracks of Disc 7 represent the composer’s final journeys through the ethnomusicology of Norway. The journey would never have been undertaken had it not been for his friendship with fellow composer Rikard Nordraak (1842-66) who introduced him to a work called Norwegian Mountain Melodies by Lindeman. Nordraak’s untimely death at age 24 occasioned Grieg to write the Funeral March for Rikard Nordraak. It is in a minor and beautifully pays tribute to the composer’s departed friend and colleague. It is rightly juxtaposed between the two large sets of folk material.
The Folkdances include five "Cradle Songs", but the rest are mostly "dancelike" although the two longest "It Happened in My Youth" and "I Wander Deep in Thought" seem less terpsichorean than the others. The Peasant Dances, on the other hand are mostly Hallings, Gangers and Leaping Dances with a few Bridal Marches thrown in. It is all very festive and concludes the set with appropriate panache. This set is recommended for all lovers of romantic piano music.
-- Gregory W. Stouffer, MusicWeb International
reviewing Gerhard Oppitz's complete box set of Grieg piano music, RCA 82876
Works on This Recording
Stimmungen, Op. 73 by Edvard Grieg
Gerhard Oppitz (Piano)
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