Henning Kraggerud / Tromsø Kammerorkester

Grieg: Three Concerti for Violin and Chamber Orchestra

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Plenty of Romantic orchestral works were reduced to chamber size for home use, and piano works were orchestrated by Grieg and others. The transformation from chamber music to orchestra is comparatively rarer, and that's partly because the two genres inhabit different realms of discourse. Put that together with the fact that Norwegian Henning Kraggerud freely admits that his intent in making these arrangements was to increase the size of the slender Nordic violin concerto repertory, and you might not expect much from this set of arrangements of Edvard Grieg's three sonatas for violin and piano. These are not in themselves well-known pieces (although Grieg himself thought highly of them), and there would seem to be little reason to orchestrate them. As it happens, the arrangements and performances work very well. Partly it's because Kraggerud and co-arranger Bernt Simen Lund have done their job well, studying Grieg's other orchestrations and keeping the texture reduced to a clear set of strings and winds that brings out the details of the original piano lines. But it's also due to the unusually ambitious quality of these sonatas, whose outer movements ingeniously provide a tension between sonata form and Grieg's dramatic suites. That tension is partly lost when the piano part is transferred to an orchestra, but on the other hand you come close here to getting the violin concertos that Grieg never actually wrote. The characteristic lyrical Grieg appears mostly in the slow movements, and Kraggerud is quite affecting here. Kraggerud leads the Tromsø Chamber Orchestra and achieves an organic connection with them. The only real complaint is boxy sound from a Tromsø church, but that shouldn't stop Grieg enthusiasts from checking out this bold little release.

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