GRIEG: Lyric Pieces
Nicholas Roth, p—Blue Griffin 145 [3CD] 174 min (1120 Keystone Ave, Lansing MI 48911; 517-646-9117)
For those of you who, like me, enjoy having complete collections, look no further than this compelling new set by Nicholas Roth. Having immersed himself in Grieg’s sound world, he recorded all 66 of the Lyric Pieces in just four days (two sessions, several weeks apart). I listened once to all of them consecutively, and I enjoyed the experience. It is a rare opportunity to hear a lifetime of compositions, from Op. 12 to Op. 71 (1867 to 1901). And what a wealth of music is here to be discovered. This set, available for about $30, should be required listening for all students of piano and anyone else with a fondness for romantic piano music. While we are more accustomed to hearing groups of selected Lyric Pieces, my advice would be to listen to them all, as well played and well recorded as here and select your own group of favorites.
I am not suggesting that single CD selections of Lyric Pieces should be avoided—quite the contrary. You can purchase the legendary Gilels (DG 449721) and the excellent Andsnes recording on Grieg’s own piano (EMI 57296, July/Aug 2002) for about $10-$12 each and get 44 excellent tracks (34 different ones with 10 duplications). Gieseking’s perceptive performances of 31 are available (EMI 66775, Nov/Dec 1998), but the monaural sound is only OK. Richter’s 1993 concert recording (Live Classics 442, Jan/Feb 1997) is digital and gives you 22 great selections. These all are formidable competition for Mr Roth, but his interpretations stand up quite well.
For the casual listener, I would probably still recommend the Gilels as first choice, but for those who want it all, I can’t imagine a better choice than Roth.