Grieg: Piano Concerto & Incidental Music to 'Peer Gynt' (SACD)

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Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Bergen Philharmonic, Edward Gardner

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano), Lise Davidsen (soprano), Ann-Helen Moen (soprano), Victoria Nava (soprano), Johannes Weisser (baritone), Håkon Høgemo (Hardanger Fiddle)

Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Choirs, Edward Gardner

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This much awaited recording offers keenly idiomatic performances of the most famous works by Grieg, played by the composer’s own orchestra, the Bergen Philharmonic, and its Chief Conductor, Edward Gardner. The drama and passion of such favourite pieces as the incidental music to Peer Gynt and the Piano Concerto are superbly captured in surround-sound with exemplary Chandos sound quality. Unlike most existing recordings, offering only the orchestral suites, this disc presents numerous extra excerpts from Peer Gynt, which follow the sequence of Henrik Ibsen‘s dramatic poem, including sections for the unique Norwegian 'Hardanger Fiddle’. Having collaborated with the orchestra on several occasions, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet is the soloist in the Piano Concerto, a piece that stands out as a shining example of a single great thought captured and expressed in music. The power of this conception is evident throughout the concerto in the pianist’s faithful, yet highly romantic interpretation.

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Gramophone Magazine

"Gardner is certainly alive to the drama of the tale and his ‘Hall of the Mountain King’ is superbly caught by Chandos’s engineers…while the ‘Morning Mood’ that opens Act 4 attains a refreshing simplicity hard to achieve in such well-known music…In the Piano Concerto, Gardner brings to the table flair, drive and an almost Tchaikovskian lushness to the string sound, which matches well Bavouzet’s commanding manner in the piano’s opening flourish."

The Times

4 Stars

"This music is tried and tested but it’s been given fresh lustre. The Piano Concerto may be considered a warhorse, but Bavouzet keeps it cantering nimbly along with a featherlight touch...Gardner steers [Peer Gynt] authoritatively...One listen and you’ll be pining for the fjords too."

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Grieg: Peer Gynt, incidental music, Op. 23

Grieg: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16

Grieg: Folkelivsbilder, Op. 19