Edvard Grieg

Norwegian Dances (4) for piano, 4 hands (or solo piano), Op. 35

    Description by James Leonard

    The Norwegian Dances (4), Op. 35, (1883) of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg (1845-1907) are for the most part based on tunes he found in Ludvig Mathias Lindemans' folk song collection Mountain Melodies Old and New. Like many sets of national dances from the nineteenth century -- Brahms' Hungarian Dances and Dvorák's Slavonic Dances, for example -- Grieg's Norwegian Dances were originally scored for piano duet to satisfy demand for music to be played in the home. They were later orchestrated by the Czech-born conductor Hans Sitt and it is in this guise that they are best known to later audiences.

    All four of the dances are in simple ternary form. Three of the four -- the first, third, and fourth -- have quick outer sections and slower inner sections while the second reverses this order. Taken as a whole, the Norwegian Dances are in symphonic form, that is, the first and fourth dances (Allegro marcato and Allegro molto) are more expansive and more developed while the two central dances are like the Intermezzo's central movements of Brahms' symphonies with the second (Allegretto tranquillo e grazioso) taking the place of a slow movement and the third (Allegro moderato alla Marcia) serving as a march-like Scherzo à la the later march-scherzos of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6.

    Like all of Grieg's best music, the Norwegian Dances are filled with achingly beautiful tunes set to supple chromatic harmonies, joyously festive tunes above cheerful rhythms, and the occasional faux-frightening tunes with skittering harmonies. At least two sections of the dances -- the cheerful opening of the first dance and insouciant opening of the second -- are nearly as well-known as the first Peer Gynt Suite or the Holberg Suite.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegretto marcato in D minor
    2. Allegretto tranquilo e grazioso in A major
    3. Allegro moderato alla marcia in G major
    4. Allegro molto in D major

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Alpha Alpha 282
    2016 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186231
    2015 Claves
    2015 Claves CD 501501
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon
    2012 Orfeo C 815121A
    2011 Denon Records
    2011 Danacord DACOCD697-698
    2008 Antes Edition / Zebralution
    2008 Berlin Classics 0014292BC
    2008 BIS 1740/2
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93516
    2007 Naxos 8557854
    2007 Hungaroton 32445
    2006 EtCetera Records 1004
    2006 Divine Art 25042
    2006 Berlin Classics 0185442
    2006 Tuxedo Music TUXCD 1004
    2006 Virgin 44722
    2006 BIS 1626
    2005 EMI Music Distribution 586 513-2
    2005 Rca Red Seal 65834
    2005 Centaur Records 2712
    2003 Eroica Distribution 3178
    2003 BIS 1291
    2001 Eroica Distribution 3064
    2000 Dutton Laboratories 1012
    2000 Stradivarius 33410
    2000 Ars Harmonica 20
    2000 Berlin Classics 0017072
    2000 Deutsche Grammophon 469 142-2GP2
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 419431
    1999 Berlin Classics 0093932
    1999 Philips 462290
    1999 Marquis Classics 81241
    1996 NKF 50028
    1996 ASV CDQS6181
    1996 Naxos 553398
    1995 Simax 1133
    1994 BIS 113
    1992 Chandos 9028
    1992 Vox / Vox Box 5048
    1992 Naxos 550090
    Brilliant Classics 93516/3
    Victoria 19027
    Deutsche Grammophon 471300
    Sophia Pallas and Julian Trail