Sigurd Slåttebrekk

Chasing the Butterfly

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Chasing the Butterfly is the result of a couple of creative people seeing a confluence of ideas and working to produce something unique and unexpected. Pianist Sigurd Slåttebrekk and producer Tony Harrison worked together on a recording of Grieg's Piano Concerto in 2005. The desire to look at the work as if it were a new piece led them to examine the recordings that Grieg himself had made of some of his Lyric Pieces in 1903 in Paris, the composer performing his own works, which at the time would be considered new (or relatively new) music. The next question was "What would those pieces have sounded like on Grieg's own piano?" Lief Ove Andsnes had already used Grieg's piano at Troldhaugen to record some of the Lyric Pieces. What Slåttebrekk and Harrison decided to do was attempt to re-create Grieg's recordings, to capture the music as Grieg would have played it in his own home, in 21st century sound, meaning not just using the same pieces, but also trying to replicate the same tempos, dynamics, and shadings. Slåttebrekk realized that merely listening to Grieg play and then precisely imitating him would not do. He tried to absorb the way Grieg played, the way he handled different types of passages and sounds, to create performances that sound natural and musical. Slåttebrekk succeeds in this, as can be heard in the full Sonata, Op. 7. Grieg was only able to record half of the last movement, but Slåttebrekk gives us the complete work, sounding very fresh and organic. The same is true of the Ballade, Op. 24. There is a brightness and momentum in his playing that makes it come alive. In the Andante moderato movement he uses sensitive phasing and rubato, but not so much that the sense of direction is ever lost. To prove how closely Slåttebrekk comes to Grieg's original, the Grieg recordings are also included, as is a track Harrison put together of the Wedding Day at Troldhaugen that weaves Grieg's and Slåttebrekk's performances. The second disc contains the Piano Concerto recording with Michail Jurowski and the Oslo Philharmonic that started it all. It has some of the same sparkle as the solo pieces and is not treated as monumentally heavy or forcefully as most pianists do. This distinctive release -- something of a twist on period performance practice -- is recommended for any fan of Grieg's music.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:02
Piano Sonata in E minor, Op. 7
2 2:39
3 2:36
4 1:53
5 1:53
6 1:55
7 1:38
8 2:58
9 1:41
Piano Sonata in E minor, Op. 7
10 4:13
11 4:00
12 2:39
13 5:51
14 19:06
15 2:00
Piano Sonata in E minor, Op. 7
16 2:37
17 2:35
18 1:50
19 1:54
20 1:47
21 1:39
22 2:54
23 2:31
24 2:03
25 2:03
blue highlight denotes track pick