Einar Steen-Nøkleberg

Grieg: Piano Music, Vol. 12

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Einar Steen-Nøkleberg has recorded 14 volumes of Edvard Grieg's piano music for Naxos, of which this is the 12th in the series. Aside from Peer Gynt and the selections from Sigurd Jorsalfar, little of this music may be familiar. The first half of the program is devoted to early pieces and the Agitato, the Norwegian Dances, and the Waltz-Caprices may strike listeners as respectable salon fare competently written for the piano but of scant originality beyond a few harmonic innovations. Grieg's flashy transcription of Johan Halvorsen's Entry March of the Boyars is modestly appealing, but little of Grieg's personality is evident in this showpiece. The piano version of Peer Gynt provides the substance and character lacking in the previous works. This is immediately apparent in the "Death of Åse" and Solveig's Song, evocative pieces that are effective in their simplicity. The appearance of the Chamber Choir of the Norwegian State Institute of Music in the Arabian Dance makes this number a pleasant diversion. The three pieces from Sigurd Jorsalfar are better known in the original version for orchestra, but still carry a heroic power in this sturdy piano reduction. Steen-Nøkleberg's performances are highly colored and vigorous, and his consistent energy throughout the program goes far in sustaining interest.

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