For the 100th anniversary of Grieg's death in 1907, Daniel Propper took on the task of performing all 66 of Grieg's Lyric Pieces in recital. This disc is his studio -- actually a church -- recording of the first four books of those pieces, also made in 2007. There isn't much that relates Grieg's miniatures either as a whole or within the sets other than the general sense of Griegness (i.e., singable melodies, harmonies, and rhythms that invoke Norwegian folk culture or patriotism) and usually a wistfulness or nostalgia. There are songs without words, dances, lullabies, character pieces, and the more abstractly titled album leaves, all ranging from melancholy to joyful. Through all the differing moods and pictures, however, Propper unites the pieces through his consistent tone. The disc's engineers keep the resonance in hand, usually hard to do with church recordings, so that Propper's clean playing is evident. It allows the fastest pieces like Elves' Dance, Op. 12, and "Papillon" and "Petit oiseau" from Op. 43, a magic nearing that of Mendelssohn's fairies. The only times at which the resonance begins to get muddy and could be bothersome to some listeners are in two or three of the loudest, most passionate passages, such as in the Canon, Op. 38. Propper certainly doesn't Romanticize Grieg's pieces, but he doesn't add much nuance either. Many will probably feel that his approach is too light or too cool, and that, although Propper is extremely proficient, he doesn't bring anything new, different, or distinguished to these sets of pieces.
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AllMusic Review by Patsy Morita
|Lyric Pieces (8) for piano, Book 1, Op. 12|
|Lyric Pieces (8) for piano, Book 2, Op. 38|
|Lyric Pieces (6) for piano, Book 3, Op. 43|
|Lyric Pieces (7) for piano, Book 4, Op. 47|