American Record Guide

All concertos are published with the orchestral part arranged for piano, and that is the way they are typically learned. No less a pair of immortal pianists than Rachmaninoff and Horowitz had a legendary two-piano work through of Rachmaninoff’s Concerto 3 in the basement of Steinway Hall in New York City. For those of us who went to music school, most of the concertos we heard in performance had the orchestra parts played by a piano. That is where I last heard the Grieg Concerto performed on two pianos. The composer is expected to supply this arrangement before publication. Grieg only did the orchestral arrangement for the parts where the piano solo is not playing. That allowed for a piano score that had the rests filled in with an orchestral reduction. Carl Thern took Grieg’s partial arrangement of the orchestra and completed it.

Here we have a knockout performance that took me by surprise. This should be required listening for anyone learning this concerto, especially if a live performance with a second piano is considered. It is also a way to hear the work with different textures. But most of us will miss the variety of sound an orchestra offers, especially when the piano and orchestra imitate each other.

The remainder of the program is devoted to piano duets (four hands at one piano) plus one of Grieg’s Mozart sonata arrangements (the famous No. 15 in C, K. 545). Almost the whole program is a flashback to my youth: the Mozart sonata, simplified arrangements of the concerto, playing the Peer Gynt duets with my mother. I can’t recall enjoying a release in this way before. Given the high quality of Goldstone and Clemmow’s interpretations and their near-perfect ensemble. I wish my own aural memories were this good.

The Homage March is Grieg’s own four-hand version of an orchestral piece for the play ‘Sigurd the Crusader’ (Jorsalfar) and is given its world premiere recording here (along with the two-piano version of the concerto). The four Norwegian dances for piano duet are not heard often enough, especially at this performance level. This is rather special and should warm the hearts of all Grieg aficionados.

—Harrington