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Reviews: Piano Music by Grieg and Grainger

The MHS Review 409, VOL. 12, NO.13• 1988

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Donald Manildi, American Record Guide (September/October 1988)


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Grieg: Selections from Norwegian Folksongs, Op. 66: Nos. 1, 3, 14, 18, and 19; Selections from Sldtter(Norwegian Peasant Dances), Op. 72: Nos. 1, 5, and 7; Grainger: Shepherd's Hey; "The Nightingale" and "The Two Sisters"; Spoon River; Blithe Bells (after Bach); "The Gum-suckers" March; Colonial Song; In Dahomey; Three Scotch Folksongs.Joseph Smith, Piano.

In addition to their alphabetical proximi­ty, Grieg and Grainger were mutual ad­mirers of each others' musical talents; and Grainger, of course, went on to become one of the foremost interpreters of the Grieg concerto and solo pieces. Thus their combination on this record was an ad­mirable idea on the part of pianist Smith, who carries off the project with both panache and refinement. Rather than choosing the more familiar Grieg Lyric Pieces frequently recorded by others, Smith gives us eight examples of Grieg's ar­rangements of genuine folk tunes--pieces of bracing vigor and vitality. The Grainger selection is equally fascinating, and never more so than in the concluding "Cakewalk Smasher" called In Dahomey (1903-09), a genuine excursion into the ragtime idioms of the day, decked out with extravagant pianistic virtuosity. Indeed, this is its first recording, and the piece was only publish­ed (by Peters) last year. Smith's program notes are no less enlightening and enter­taining than his playing, and MHS has for­tunately provided superb recorded sound.

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