Bjarte Engeset

Grieg: Norwegian Dances; Ballade; Slåtter

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Not for the casual Grieg fan for whom the Piano Concerto and the Peer Gynt Suites will do, but rather for the hardest of hardcore Grieg fans for whom only everything and more will do, this disc of the Norwegian master's piano music in orchestral transcriptions with Bjarte Engeset leading Royal Scottish National Orchestra is as good as it gets for what it is. Engeset is a strong yet soulful Grieg conductor who, like every great Grieg conductor, brings out the music's bright colors, its warm lyricism, and above all its deep sentimentality. The RSNO is an agile yet powerful orchestra, which, like every great orchestra of international caliber, performs with effortless ensemble and endless virtuosity. And although to the casual Grieg fan the idea of spending time listening to Johan Halvorsen's arrangements of the Funeral March in Memory of Rikard Nordraak and The Bridal Procession Passes By might not appeal, the hardest of the hardcore will leap at the opportunity to hear those works along with the more familiar orchestration of the Norwegian Dances by Hans Sitt, the hardly familiar orchestration of Ringing Bells by Grieg and Anton Seidl, the world-premiere recordings of Oistein Sommerfeldt's orchestrations of three of the Slatter, and modernist Norwegian composer Geirr Tveitt's orchestration of the composer's longest single-movement piano piece, the Ballade. Typically for RSNO recordings, Naxos' digital sound from Henry Wood Hall in Glasgow is rich, deep, and honest.

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