This exciting DVD is not only a tribute to Grieg and his avid promoter Leif Ove Andsnes, but it is also a wonderful travelogue of the many places Grieg visited and lived in throughout his life. The opening documentary (53m) tracks the year long preparation that Andsnes undertook for his first public performance of the Ballad in G minor, described by the pianist himself as one of Grieg's most ambivalent and tormented pieces, although I cannot find a reason why Andsnes had to visit every place that Grieg lived in to interpret a work which is seldom performed.
Still, his live performance in the Grieg Hall at Bergen is an electrifying experience altogether and one which holds the viewer riveted to his/her seat. The Ballad is followed by an inspiring account of the perennial Piano Concerto. Ably supported by Ruud and his Norwegian forces, Andsnes displays all his versatility and passion for Grieg's music, and his fresh approach to this piece sheds new light on the composer's love for his cousin Nina whom he eventually married.
The third section of the DVD takes the soloist to Troldhaugen, where on Grieg's own Steinway piano, he plays a selection of "Lyric Pieces". Evidently awed by the historicity of the surroundings, Andsnes still manages to communicate all the charm and poetry of these quite delightful miniatures. This is a visual and aural feast which is wholeheartedly recommended. [Most of the recordings here are reissues of performances already available on CD, specifically the Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16 is a reissue from 2002 (EMI 72435-57562-2) and the 6 Lyric Pieces were originally issued in 2001 (EMI 72435-57296-2) -Ed.]
Copyright © 2008 by Gerald Fenech