This is a lovely collection of Grieg's more famous piano pieces by one of the finest Grieg interpreters of our time. Leif Ove Andsnes' recordings of these works stand comparison with the best there is. The high point here is undoubtedly the introspective Ballade in G Minor. It manages to eclipse even the more famous A Minor Piano Concerto which comes in an earnest, straightforward reading with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra under Ole Kristian Ruud. Both were recorded at the Grieghallen in Bergen in 2007. They come with the 3 encores listed above - Humoresque, Evening in the Mountains, and March of the Trolls. My favourites however are the 6 Lyric Pieces recorded separately in 2001 on Grieg's own vintage Steinway at his home in Troldhaugen. (The same recording as on the CD album)
The accompanying 56-minute documentary is not so much a Grieg biography as Andsnes' personal search for a better understanding of the genesis of the G Minor Ballade, a piece which he had never performed in public before. Although its genesis stemmed largely from the deaths of Grieg's parents and of his only child, Andsnes takes us back through earlier events in Grieg's life, leading us on a leisurely tour of various European cities (Leipzig, Rome, Copenhagen, London) which played major roles in Grieg's musical career. The documentary is narrated in English with Andsnes speaking in a mix of Norwegian and German. Optional subtitles are provided. Both the documentary and the 2007 Grieghallen concert are in 1.78:1 widescreen (enhanced for widescreen TV). Sound is in LPCM Stereo (CD quality), Dolby Digital 5.0 and DTS 5.0. Picture quality is excellent.
The earlier recording of the 6 Lyric Pieces is in standard 1.33:1 full screen. Sound is only available in LPCM Stereo but it is lovely; very present, wide ranging and preserving that special timbre of Grieg's own Steinway, set amidst the intimate acoustics of his home. The film is beautifully shot in the candlelit, wood-panelled drawing room at Troldhaugen. Andsnes introduces every piece with a short preface in English. Favourites here are the simple and lovely "Arietta", the melancholic "Homesickness" and of course the joyfully rousing "Wedding Day at Troldhaugen". The total running time of the documentary and concerts is 127-minutes, excluding the EMI adverts. Andsnes' recordings of all these works are already available on CD. This DVD makes a lovely memento of his latest survey of Grieg's music compiled for the 100th Anniversary of the great composer's death.
Note: The Ballade in G Minor is performed in the Grieghallen, not on the mountain top as shown on the cover. That was a publicity stunt. Andsnes plays a few chords at most on the mountain top. But it does certainly look very impressive.