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Idiomatic rightness

An award-winning Grieg disc -
reviewed by

'... an enchanting lightness of touch ...'

Edvard Grieg: Norwegian Dances; Symphonic Dances; Lyric Suite. © 2003 BIS Records AB

Grieg's London fame was effectively revived for a day on 16 September. Even if ceremonial curtains invariably suggest a crematorium to me, I rejoiced at the unveiling of a blue plaque to Grieg at the Clapham house of the publisher George Augener, his usual London base. Grieg's final English visit in 1906 included an Oxford doctorate, which he found less festive than its Cambridge equivalent; it also involved a tumble over a tiger's head on a floor where he was to have given a song recital with his wife Nina. He was sufficiently damaged to retire from the piano in favour of Henry Wood.

The Norwegian ambassador revealed the plaque before a gathering of select admirers. My only fear is that soon enough Grieg may suffer the sorry fate of Handel, whose plaque is now neighboured by one to Jimi Hendrix. I dare not scour the letter 'G' in the Newest Grove to hazard a guess at the name of Grieg's future companion. For the present he is in honourable isolation on the façade of a mansion that speaks volumes for Augener's business acumen and success. Celebration continued at the Norwegian embassy, where a mane-shaking young pianist exacted less silence for the Grieg concerto than the composer managed in front of Edward VII. Haakon VII commented that the King-Emperor was quite capable of listening and conversing at the same time.

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Copyright © 13 October 2004 Robert Anderson, London UK


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