Edvard Grieg

Lyric Pieces (6) for piano, Book 8, Op. 65

    Description by Michael Jameson

    Edvard Grieg has a longstanding place among Romantic musical miniaturists, standing in the direct lineage of Mendelssohn and Schumann. He was born in Bergen, Western Norway in 1843. By the time of his death there in 1907, his principal achievement was to have successfully engineered a fusion between nationalistic elements commonly found within indigenous Nordic song, and some of the most progressive innovations of mainstream Romanticism, notably the rapid advance of musical impressionism as applied to the keyboard miniature.

    Taking the broad view of Grieg's output, we can say that the impact of folkloristic idioms can be found to pervade most of his compositions for solo piano. The links are strongest, perhaps, in the Piano Sonata in E minor, Op. 7, of 1865, the Pictures from Country Life, Op. 19, and of course, the ten books devoted to Lyric Pieces, some sixty-six miniatures in all which were published in the years 1867-1901. It was, wrote Grieg, the celebrated Norwegian violin virtuoso Ole Borneman Bull who "opened my eyes to the beauty and unspoilt nature of Norwegian music," although in these works, it would be hard to overlook the demonstrable impact that exerted upon Grieg's creative processes by the seminal German Romantic miniaturists, and by the music of Chopin, whose expressive instincts are also closely mirrored. As Joachim Dorfmüller has written "To this traditional aspect, however, Grieg added a novel element in the form of folk music, which, in a number of pieces may be regarded as a genuine source of inspiration."

    Writing to his publisher, the head of Peters Edition Henri Hinrichsen in 1901, the composer remarked that his Lyric Pieces were "an intimate slice of life," and indeed, it would be very hard to challenge such an assertion. Book 8, published as Grieg's Op. 65, comprises of the following numbers: 1) From days of Youth, 2) Peasant's Song, 3) Melancholy, 4) Salon, 5) In Ballad Vein, 6) Wedding Day at Troldhaugen. The final piece in the set has good claims to be the best-loved and most universally performed of all Grieg's piano works, great or small. This is the piece known as "Wedding Day at Troldhaugen," Op. 65 No. 6. As Dorfmüller explains, "Trolls are quintessentially Norwegian creatures, and it was in their honour that Grieg and his wife Nina named the plot of land on which they built their house on the outskirts of Bergen in 1884-85; 'Troldhaugen' or 'Troll Hill'." In this delightful piece, the march-like outer sections, illustrating the guests greeting the happy couple, frame a more lyrically reflective central episode. Other pieces, notably Op. 65 No. 5 "In Ballad Vein" set a much more melancholic tone, in its broad chorale-like phrases. Finally, as Dorfmüller concludes, in his Lyric Pieces, and indeed in much of his remaining piano music, "Grieg thrust aside tradition--no doubt, in the final analysis, to his own astonishment as much as to that of his contemporaries--and in his last great creative period he set out on a virtually impressionistic path."

    Parts/Movements

    1. Fra Ungdomsdagene (From Early Years)
    2. Bondens Sang (Peasant’s Song)
    3. Tungsind (Melancholy)
    4. Salon
    5. I Balladetone (Ballad)
    6. Bryllupsdag på Troldhaugen (Wedding Day at Troldhaugen)

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2015 ABC Classics 4811702
    2014 Melodiya MELCD 1002118
    2011 Vox 3023
    2010 Cascavelle 3141
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94046
    2009 Erato / Warner Classics
    2009 Erato
    2009 Erato / Virgin Classics 5099968635
    2009 Skarbo 1086
    2008 Centaur Records 2984
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93516
    2007 Blue Griffin Recording 145
    2007 Virgin Classics 91369
    2007 Erato
    2007 2L 41
    2006 Cascavelle 3083
    2006 BIS 1626
    2004 RCA Red Seal 60391
    2003 Brilliant 99748
    2000 Amadis 7128
    2000 Teldec 81964
    2000 Angel Records / Warner Classics 7243561745
    1996 Naxos 553396
    1995 EMI Music Distribution 568634-2
    1994 BIS 106
    1993 BMG 61568
    Brilliant Classics 93516/10
    Lydian 18128
    BIS 147
    Virgin 59613
    Donau 8128
    Virgin 518