Piano Music of Edward Grieg, Volume 2
Independent CHM 0901120 (www.sandramogensen.com)
Edvard Grieg was not an especially complicated composer – yet, ironically, his style offers something of a challenge for performers. On one hand, a pianist should respect the heart-on-sleeve emotionalism and down-to-earth directness of Grieg’s ideas. On the other hand, this music demands interpretation: a pianist must do something with it.
And Sandra Mogensen, a Canadian pianist who lives in Stratford, Ontario, does plenty with it. With all of the 23 selections recorded here, there’s a strong sense of mood and dramatic purpose. In her hands, each piece on this clear-sounding disc captures an image or tells a story.
For instance, there’s a Schumannesque flutteriness to Butterfly (Op. 43. No. 1); and a sunny, pleasant disposition to Gade (Op. 57 No. 2) – a musical portrait of Grieg’s teacher Niels Gade. As well At the Cradle (Op. 68 No. 5) is suitably dreamy, and Bell Ringing (Op. 54 No. 6) is dark and mysterious. For Nordic folksiness look to Springdans (Op. 17 No. 1) or Norwegian (Op. 12 No. 6).
Some of these pieces go beyond the expression of a single idea, enfolding contrasting material into single movements. Mogensen’s performance of the famous Solveig’s Song (Op. 52 No. 2) is alternately mournful and sweet. And the enigmatic Vanished Days (Op. 57. No. 1) – the longest piece on the disc – runs the gamut from introspective wistfulness to intense high drama, with some playful passages thrown in for good measure.
For those with a penchant for sterner stuff, some of the pieces recorded here will no doubt seem overly sentimental. Be that as it may, Mogensen pleads Grieg’s case sincerely and well.