BBC Music Magazine

This is fascinating and fun. Grieg wrote about 250 bars of a Piano Quintet before abandoning it in 1892. Starting in 2007, British composer Michael Finnissy spent five years working on a viable completion, a veritable labour of love. From Grieg’s exposition, Finnissy saw that a substantial work was implied, creating a single movement Kammersymphonie in four sections lasting 27 minutes. The result is entirely convincing, with no sense of a point where Grieg ends and Finnissy begins.

Having reined himself in for this idiomatic completion, Finnissy also wrote a free interpretation of the Piano Quintet fragment, starting with music that follows the sense of Grieg’s before taking it beyond the aesthetic of his time. Grieg’s influence on progressive musical thought is all too often overlooked, so it is illuminating to hear his sensibility taken into the orbit of composers he influenced, notably Grainger, Debussy, Ravel, Cage and Finnissy himself. The transformation is masterly and utterly compelling, as are performance of both works from the Kreutzer Quartet and pianist Roderick Chadwick. It is only at the end that dislocation comes, the music fragmenting as if suddenly aware of how far it has travelled and the anachronism in relation to its starting point. Strongly recommended. Performance ***** Recording ****

—Christopher Dingle