GRIEG: Lyric Pieces, Books 1 - 10 (Selection) (Einar Steen-Nokleberg) (Naxos: 8.554051)
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Lyric Pieces (selections)
Among Grieg's works, the Lyric Pieces
seem to have a specialplace with a special significance in their order. That he apparently viewedthem in the same way is clear from the fact that his last lyrical piece, 'Remembrances',Op. 71, No. 7, in 1901, quotes his first piece, 'Arietta', Op. 12, No. 1, of 1867. Thus the circleis completed, marking the end of the period in which he was concerned with thistype of piano piece, a type that the whole world loved, admired, and above all,played. Even though he revealed his deepest, most intimate feelings in many ofthe lyrical pieces, the music remains approachable and is often played. Itwould probably be hard to find the piano student who has not learned tolove these lyrical pieces, in spite of their occasional difficulty, and doesnot feel that the struggle has been worth while, if the results are good. Oneshould ignore the fact that they have at times been looked upon with disdain asinferior. In fact they have survived as music that is both living and vital,because they are so strongly rooted in the consciousness of the people. The expression Lyric Pieces
is actually Grieg's owninvention, but does not describe a genre. Character-pieces for the piano, withor without descriptive titles, have a long tradition and Grieg is only one tocontribute to this, although his contribution is a very important one. Each ofhis lyric pieces, like Mendelssohn's Lieder ohne Worte,
expresses onlyone mood, one feeling. From the publication of the second book, in 1883, (thefirst one came out in 1867), Grieg went on to publish collections of Lyric Pieces
at regular intervals until 1901. They cover the greater part of Grieg's lifeas an established composer, and represent more or less every single facet ofhis personal style. No attempt has been made to hide the fact that the lyric piecesgradually became good business, both for Grieg himself, as well as for thepublishers. In a letter to Peters, Grieg called them Semmeln
- fragrant,fresh-baked, bread - and the fact of the matter is that they were indeed soldlike "hot cakes". No wonder the publisher Peters, in London and Frankfurt, was delighted every time Grieg delivered a manuscript for a new album of pianopieces. He was strongly attached to many of these pieces and enjoyed playingthem, while there were others that he was not pleased with at all. In a letterto his friend, Emil Horneman, he writes:
My Silence is unforgivable, because I honestIy haven't doneanything, other than the so-called, "Lyric Pieces", which aresurrounding me like lice and fleas in the country. (Letter to EmilHorneman, 15 September 1898)
Other people also made snide remarks about them, such as Debussy'scomment that the lyric pieces were like "pink candies filled with snow,"probably alluding to the pink covers on the editions of the albums from Peters.
Grieg's Lyric Pieces
contain 66 compositions, published inten albums, during the years from 1867 to 1901. Most of these albums wereprinted again several times, and many of the pieces were published separately.
Several of the most popular of them were published in innumerable arrangements,some by Grieg himself, but mostly by others. ?ÿyvindNordheim
English translation: Phyllis Nyquist For the complete programme notes for the individual volumes of the
Lyric Pieces, please refer to the 'About This Recording' for Naxos 8.553393 (Books 1 to 3), 8.553394 (Books 4 to 7) and 8.553395 (Books 8 to 10) on the naxos.com website or Naxos Digital Library.