Mozart was without a doubt one of Edvard Grieg's favourite composers. When his mother gave lessons or entertained family and friends for an evening of music, it was the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart which made the greatest impression on him. During the winter of 1876/77 he arranged four of Mozart's nineteen piano sonatas for two pianos by adding his own, newlsy composed part. What is special about Grieg's adaptations of the Mozart sonatas is that he has not reworked them in the traditional - and perhaps derogatory - manner. Grieg's unusual achievement lies in the fact that he has retained Mozart's text unchanged, adding an entirely new part which can be performed together with the original. When both parts are played, they interweave and become something entirely new. Two different musical styles meet in dialogue, ending up in a symbiosis of colour and texture. Mozart's music expands in time and space. Grieg's additional piano part is a romantic's respectful embrace, a romantic commentary; Mozart in romantic guise.
Chamber music has always formed the heart of Maria João Pires’s musicianship. Indeed, she has often commented that she is happier working with others than performing on her own. “Not sharing a stage is very difficult for me,” she once remarked (in an interview for ArtsJournal in 2012) “You are apart from the group, apart from community, apart from everything. You become different and special. And, if you become different and special, you’re alone.”
Edvard Grieg will always be remembered as the composer of the highly effective Piano Concerto in A minor, and his incidental music to Ibsen's play Peer Gynt. However, it is as a miniaturist that Greig's true genius lies. Grieg was a very capable pianist, and had in fact made his early career as a concert pianist, his songs and solo piano music form the heart of his output. The early piano sonata although interesting shows clearly why the less restricting forms of the miniatures for solo piano suited his genius. The Lyric Pieces and Peasant Dances display his keen ear for traditional folk music, matched probably only by Bartok and Kodaly. The 66 works that comprise the 10 books of Lyric Pieces date from 1867 to 1901, and are extraordinary, exquisitely crafted works that can stand comparison to any of the great sonatas of his contemporaries. This 7 CD set includes the complete Lyric Pieces, the Sonata, The Holberg Suite and the lesser-known piano works of this great composer who captured the very essence of his native Norway in music.
One of the leading young soloists to emerge from Scandinavia in recent years, noted particularly for her superb musical expression, as well as her well-developed virtuosity and musicality. Young Norwegian violinist, Vilde Frang brings together a diverse, yet complimentary selection of sonatas for her second EMI Classics release.
There is a recurrent theme running through the program presented by the Dena Piano Duo in this production; all four composers and works have a particular relationship to Edvard Grieg. Both Johannes Brahms and Camille Saint-Saëns were friends of Grieg, and in several of his works the inspiration Grieg gained from his colleagues in Vienna and Paris is easy to hear. In between the works of Brahms and Saint-Saëns the Dena Piano Duo play two Norwegian works they have commissioned from the composers Wolfgang Plagge and Terje Bjørklund with this recording in mind.