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GRIEG, Edvard • EVJU, Helge

GRIEG: Piano Concerto In A Minor (Percy Grainger Edition) • EVJU: Piano Concerto In B Minor (Realised From Grieg's Fragments)


  • Carl Petersson, piano
  • Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra
  • Kerry Stratton

Edvard Grieg first met Percy Grainger in London in 1906 and the two became good friends, Grieg inviting the ‘Young Apollo’ to spend the summer of 1907 with him at Troldhaugen where they revised the famous Piano Concerto in A minor in preparation for a European tour later that year. Their alterations, enhancing dynamic clarity, resulted in the last edition “sanctioned by Grieg himself”, as Grieg died a few months later. Edvard Grieg had plans for a second piano concerto and wrote several piano sketches for a concerto in B-minor in 1883. He never completed it, but Norwegian composer Helge Evju has taken up the challenge to compose a work based on the incomplete concerto fragments, creating a romantic and beautiful companion concerto, faithful to Grieg’s musical style and flair.

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Tracklist

Grieg, Edvard
 
Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16 (revised by P. Grainger) (1868) (00:27:00 )
1
I. Allegro moderato (00:11:36)
2
II. Adagio (00:06:01)
3
III. Allegro marcato (00:09:34)
4
Piano Concerto in B Minor (fragments) () (00:02:34)
Evju, Helge
 
Piano Concerto in B Minor (on fragments by E. Grieg) () (00:22:04 )
5
I. Moderato tranquillo * (00:05:41)
6
II. Scherzo * (00:04:10)
7
III. Adagio * (00:05:21)
8
IV Cadenza * (00:02:43)
9
V. Finale * (00:04:14)
Grieg, Edvard
10
6 Poems, Op. 25: No. 4. Med en vandlilje (With a Water Lily) (arr. H. Evju for piano) (1876) * (00:02:11)
11
6 Songs, Op. 48: No. 6. En drom (A Dream) (arr. H. Evju for piano) (1888) * (00:02:33)
* World Première Recording
Total Time: 00:56:38

The Artist

Carl Petersson graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen, where he completed both his studies in piano and pedagogy with José Ribera. During his studies he took part in numerous international masterclasses in Denmark, Sweden and Israel. In 2013 he received his PhD degree from the Music Academy in Kraków. He has performed as a soloist as well as with orchestras on numerous occasions in Canada, the United States, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, France, the Czech Republic, Germany and Israel.

One of the leading Czech orchestras, the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra (PRSO) is also one of the oldest. Thanks to its imaginative programming and ever improving artistic standards it has earned an important position in Czech concert life. Guest conductors have included Václav Talich, Václav Neumann, Libor Pešek, Charles Munch, Franz Konwitschny, Hermann Scherchen, Gennady Rozhdestvensky and Charles Mackerras. The orchestra has always placed great importance on contemporary music and Sergey Prokofiev, Ottorino Respighi, Arthur Honegger, Aram Khachaturian, Ernst Krenek and Krzysztof Penderecki have conducted the PRSO performing their own compositions.
In the course of his international career Kerry Stratton has conducted orchestras in Europe, North America and Asia including the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, and many others. Stratton has also conducted concert tours of his native Canada with such ensembles as the Vienna Concert-Verein, Orchestra Internazionale d’Italia and the Georg Solti Chamber Orchestra of Budapest. With a particular fondness for Czech music Stratton won the 2000 Masaryk Award for his services to Czech and Slovak culture and was decorated by the Czech government in 2007 at Cernin Palace, Prague, with the Gratias Agit Award.

The Composer

Helge Evju was born on February 7, 1942 in Drammen, Norway, into a family of several musicians. He was taught piano mainly by his aunt, the concert pianist Aslaug Evju Blackstad, and had his hometown début in 1959, playing the Beethoven C major Concerto. From 1961 to 1963 he was resident at Brandeis University, Massachusetts, with a scholarship for music studies, studying piano with Evelyne Crochet and composition with Irving Fine, who unfortunately died in 1962. On his exam concert programme in 1963 was Samuel Barber’s Piano Sonata, which he also played in his Oslo début recital in 1968, after studies with Robert Riefling. In 1969 he took second prize in a pianists’ competition in Riefling’s name, and went to the Netherlands, and later to Prague for masterclasses with Nikita Magaloff and František Rauch. In 1974 he was singled out by the Prague critics for his performance of Janáček’s Piano Sonata 1.X.1905. In 1971 he started working as a pianist-répetiteur for the Norwegian Opera (now the Norwegian Opera and Ballet), where he stayed until retirement in 2011. His assignments for the Opera grew with the years to comprise concerts (touring the entire country), soloistic appearances with the orchestra, regular performances in the Sunday chamber concerts, lectures, texts, translations, arrangements, orchestrations and compositions. To this day he still makes guest appearances, and will conduct a comic operatic show from the piano in the spring of 2015.

In 1994 his complete (all gaps filled) cadenzas for the Mozart piano concertos were published by Verlag Zimmermann-Lienau, Frankfurt-Berlin, and pianists of high standing, such as Patrick Cohen and Andreas Haefliger, have used them in concerts and recordings. His piano transcriptions of mainly vocal music are a by-product of his operatic concert tours, to provide relevant piano interludes. He has written songs, piano pieces and several operatic arias and scenes.

Edvard Grieg is the most important Norwegian composer of the later 19th century, a period of growing national consciousness. As a child, he was encouraged by the violinist Ole Bull, a friend of his parents, and studied at the Leipzig Conservatory on his suggestion. After a period at home in Norway he moved to Copenhagen, where he met the young composer Rikard Nordraak, an enthusiastic champion of Norwegian music and a decisive influence on him. Grieg’s own performances of Norwegian music, often with his wife, the singer Nina Hagerup, established him as a leading figure in the music of his own country, bringing subsequent collaboration in the theatre with Bjørnson and with Ibsen. He continued to divide his time between composition and activity in the concert hall until his death in 1907.

Stage Works

Grieg collaborated with the dramatist Bjørnson in the play Sigurd Jorsalfar, for which he provided incidental music, and still more notably with Ibsen in Peer Gynt. The original music for the latter makes use of solo voices, chorus and orchestra but is most often heard in orchestral form in the two suites arranged by the composer. These include ‘Morning’, ‘Aase’s Death’, ‘Anitra’s Dance’ and ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ in the first suite, and ‘Ceremonial March’, ‘Arabian Dance’, ‘Peer Gynt’s Homecoming’ and ‘Solveig’s Song’ in the second, the order not corresponding to the sequence of events in Ibsen’s remarkable play.

Orchestral Music

In addition to the two Peer Gynt suites and three pieces from Sigurd Jorsalfar, Grieg wrote one of the most famous of all Romantic piano concertos, completed in 1868. The so-called ‘Holberg Suite’, more correctly From the Time of Holberg, for string orchestra, celebrates the Norwegian playwright Ludvig Holberg, the Scandinavian Molière who was an almost exact contemporary of J.S. Bach and Handel. The Two Elegiac Melodies of 1881 are also for strings only; and the Lyric Suite, based on four piano pieces of 1891, was orchestrated in 1904.

Chamber Music

Grieg’s three violin sonatas remain a part of standard Romantic repertoire, revealing his mastery of harmonic colour in the clearest of textures. The third of these, in C minor, was completed in 1887 and is particularly striking. Other chamber music includes a String Quartet in G minor, two movements of a String Quartet in F, and his Cello Sonata, written in 1883.

Piano Music

As a pianist himself, Grieg wrote extensively for the piano, excelling, in particular, in his 10 volumes of Lyric Pieces, and in other sets of short compositions for the instrument, often derived directly or indirectly from Norwegian folk music.

Vocal Music

Grieg wrote 140 songs, many inspired by his wife, a singer. They set a wide variety of texts and form an important element of his music, comparable to other songs of the period in quality and expressiveness.

Reviews

“Evju’s piano-solo transcriptions of two Grieg songs are impressively done, and the sound in these is fine. Petersson’s surging rubatos in With a Water Lily seem extreme compared with what a singer might actually do, though that isn’t necessarily illegal in a concert rendering. He’s more authentically ruminative in A Dream, weaving full-bodied sonorities from the fluent passagework.” – Positive Feedback Online

“…a CD which would be self-recommending to many even if it were not well performed and recorded. Fortunately, it is both...a very attractive performance, particularly by the pianist, and adequate sonics.” – Fanfare

“The recording is remarkably clear. Pianist Carl Petersson performs beautifully and seems especially committed to this revised edition.” – The WholeNote

“Evju’s Concerto after Grieg is a cunningly shrewd work, very entertaining, and well worth the attention of pianophiles.” – American Record Guide

“[The B minor concerto] makes the disc appealing, along with Evju’s two Earl Wild inspired Grieg song transcriptions, played with commanding virtuosity by Petersson.” – Gramophone

“All in all, this (disc) proves to be a fascinating musical experience. Carl Petersson brings a spontaneity to his playing with Kerry Stratton and the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra providing some lovely rather leisurely orchestral passages. I cannot imagine any Grieg enthusiast not wanting to hear this fascinating disc finely recorded and with first rate performances from all concerned.” – The Classical Reviewer

“This is a very well-played and in many ways exceptionally interesting release, featuring not only first-rate pianism but also very fine accompaniment by the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra under Kerry Stratton. The transcriptions and the Evju concerto here receive their world première recordings and are well worth listening to—not just once but repeatedly.” – Infodad.com

“A praiseworthy release! ” – Kulturspeilet