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ClassicsOnline Home » GRIEG: Lyric Pieces, Opp. 12, 38, 54, 57, 62, 65, 68 and 71
Edvard Grieg (1843 - 1907)
Lyric Pieces (Complete), Volume 3
Edvard Grieg, the most famous of Norwegian
composers, was descended on his mother's side from a Norwegian provincial
governor who had adopted the name Hagerup from his adoptive father, the Bishop
of Trondheim. On his father's side he was of Scottish ancestry. His
great-grandfather, Alexander Greig, had left Scotland after the battle of
Cutloden, with the final defeat of the Stuart army by the Hanoverian rulers of
England. In Norway the Greigs became Griegs and during the nineteenth century
established themselves comfortably in their new country, with the composer's
grandfather and father each serving in turn as British consul in Bergen. The
Grieg household provided a musical background for a child. Musicians visited
the family and these guests included the distinguished violinist Ole Bull. It
was he who persuaded the Griegs to send their son Edvard to the Conservatory in
Leipzig, where the boy became a student at the age of fifteen, there to undergo
the rigours of a traditional German musical education.
After a short period at home again in
Norway, where he was unable to obtain a state pension, Grieg moved to Denmark.
The capital, Copenhagen, was a cultural centre for both countries and here he
had considerable encouragement from Niels Gade. The principal influence,
however, came from a meeting with Rikard Nordraak, a young Norwegian, who fired
him with ambition to seek inspiration in the folk-music of his own country.
Nordraak died tragically young, at the age
of 24. Grieg, however, continued to prepare himself for employment in Norway,
first of all taking a long holiday, which led him to Rome, where he met the
great Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen. It was a concert arranged by Grieg in
Christiania (Oslo) and given by him with his cousin and future wife Nina
Hagerup and the violinist Wilhelmine Norman-Neruda that secured him a position
in Norway and provided support for the projected Norwegian Academy of Music,
established in the following year, 1867. The period that followed saw Grieg's
struggle, with the backing of Liszt and the support of his friend, the
dramatist and theatre-director Bj0rnson, to establish some sort of national
musical movement in Norway. He divided his time between concert activities, on
tour as conductor and pianist, composition, and periods spent in the enjoyment
of the Norwegian countryside.
Grieg's ambitions for Norwegian music were
very largely realised. At home he came to occupy a position of honour, and his
collaboration with Bjørnson and with Ibsen further identified him with the
emerging national culture. He died in 1907, as he was about to undertake one
more concert tour. For years he had suffered from lung trouble, the result of
an illness in his student days. It was this that brought about his death at the
age of 64.
Grieg wrote a large number of so-called Lyrische
Stücke, Lyric Pieces, primarily for piano solo, although he arranged some
of them for orchestra. The first set of eight short pieces was published as
Opus 12 in Copenhagen in 1867. Other collections followed, with a second album,
Opus 38, in 1884, and a third, Opus 43, two years later. The fourth collection
of pieces, Opus 47, appeared in 1888, followed in 1891 by the six pieces that
make up Opus 54. The sixth album, Opus 57, was published in 1893, with further
collections until the appearance of the final, tenth series, Opus 71, in 1901.
Short character pieces r of this kind had a ready market, and suited well
Grieg's particularly colourful handling of harmonic resources and the purely
Norwegian elements that were part of his musical vocabulary.
The present collection includes Arietta and
Norsk from the first set of Lyric pieces, Opus 12, and Springdans
from the second set. There are three pieces, Herdboy, Nocturne and Scherzo from
the fifth set, Opus 54 of 1891, and two from the sixth album, with its German
published titles. Secret and Homesickness. The seventh collection of six pieces
was published in Leipzig in 1895, the year of composition, and provides a French
Serenade, Brooklet and Homeward. The Opus 65 album was written in
the following year and published in 1897. The first four of the six pieces of
the album are included here, From Years of Youth, Peasant's Song, Melancholy
and Salon. The ninth volume appeared in 1899, providing, from the six
pieces, the second, Grandmother's Minuet, Evening in the Mountains and Cradle
Song. The tenth and last group of Lyric pieces appeared in 1901. From this
comes the charming E minor Once Upon A Time, Det var engang.
The Hungarian pianist Balázs Szokolay was
born in Budapest in 1961, the son of a mother who is a pianist and a father who
is a composer and professor at the Ferenc Liszt Academy. He started learning
the piano when he was five and in 1970 entered the preparatory class of the
Budapest Music Academy, where he completed his studies with Pal Kadosa and
Zoltan Kocsis in 1983. He later spent two years at the Academy of Music in
Munich, with a West German government scholarship.
Balázs Szokolay made an early international
appearance with peter Nagy at the Salzburg Interforum in 1979, and in 1983
substituted for Nikita Magaloff in Belgrade in a performance of the Piano
Concerto No.1 of Brahms. He is now a soloist with the Hungarian State Orchestra
and has given concerts in a number of countries abroad, including Austria,
Switzerland, France, Italy, Poland, the Soviet Union, Bulgaria and
Czechoslovakia. In September, 1987, he made his recital debut at the Royal
Festival Hall in London. He has won a number of important prizes at home and
abroad, including, most recently, success in the 1987 Queen Elisabeth of the
Belgians Competition. He took fourth place in the Leeds International Piano
Competition in 1990, when his playing was particularly commended in the British
press for its energy and imagination.
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GRIEG: Lyric Pieces, Opp. 12, 38, 54, 57, 62, 65,...