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Edvard Hagerup Grieg (1843-1907)

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Grieg & Liszt: Piano Concertos

Grieg & Liszt: Piano Concertos


Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16


Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat major, S124

Piano Concerto No. 2 in A major, S125

A concerto album from Stephen Hough is always a significant event. For this new recording Stephen travelled to Bergen – Grieg’s home town – to join forces with Andrew Litton and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in performances of Grieg and Liszt that are set to become landmark recordings of all three concertos.

Grieg’s A minor Piano Concerto, with its plethora of great tunes, is one of the most popular of all Romantic works, while Liszt’s two highly original concertos present unique challenges to both pianist and orchestra. These performances are exciting, magisterial and highly coloured, with breathtaking virtuosity harnessed to poetic refinement and finesse – hallmarks of Stephen’s playing that have already helped his concerto recordings to win two Gramophone ‘Record of the Year’ accolades.

Stephen Hough and Andrew Litton continue the astonishing success of their collaboration in Rachmaninov’s concertos, Hyperion’s fastest-selling recording. The Bergen players provide freshly idiomatic support in the Grieg and revel in the sumptuous scoring of the Liszt. The results are thrilling, and this deserves a place in any music lover’s collection, no matter how familiar the music.

Released to coincide with the twin anniversaries of Liszt’s birth (200 years ago) and Stephen’s own 50th birthday (in November), this recording is an apt celebration of both.

“Does the world really need another recording of the Grieg piano concerto? The answer has to be an emphatic yes when the soloist is the barnstorming Stephen Hough, a pianist with the fascinating ability to take a venerable work, strip it of its patina and present it as though for the very first time. This is a wonderfully alert performance, mixing novel tempi with awesome technique and breathtaking, tingling tension.” The Observer, 30th October 2011

“one of the Liszt bicentenary’s prime releases, from Britain’s greatest living magician of the keyboard...this release is witness to [Hough's] mastery in the mainstream Romantic concertos...Hough highlights [Grieg's] Concerto’s debt to Liszt, with its grandiloquent gestures and exhibitionist virtuosity...His vivaces glitter, his agitatos thrill with dramatic éclat, yet essentially he appreciates the songs-without-words that permeate these bravura works.” Sunday Times, 1st January 2012

“These two like-minded musicians manage to bring to these much-recorded works not merely thrilling virtuosity and lyrical depth but a Mendelssohnian lightness of touch where needed...Litton, himself a fine pianist, is one of the best orchestral accompanists on the planet, following Hough's every nuance with pin-point precision and lovingly shaping the many woodwind and string solos.” Classic FM Magazine, February 2012 *****

“what Stephen Hough excels at is the quick transformation, the mercurial shifts from comedy to heartfelt sincerity. He’s also a fantastic chamber player, and the Second Concerto’s quieter moments are gorgeous here. There’s some particularly lovely playing from the Bergen orchestra’s principal cello” The Arts Desk, 14th January 2012

“Introspective (but never lost in introspection) one minute, of the most refined bravura the next, he expresses a personality all his own, brilliantly alert to mercurial changes of mood and clearly riding on the crest of a wave of success. With technique honed to a state of diamond-like brilliance, he gives us rapier-like cadenzas and glissandos..that flash like summer lightening.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2012

“[Hough] seems to get just the right balance of bravura, muscle and abandon with spontaneity, lightness and wit. He is well supported by the Bergen Philharmonic under Andrew Litton.” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 24th October 2011

Presto Disc of the Week

24th October 2011

Presto Favourites

Recommended Recording

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2012

Building a Library

Modern Choice - February 2014

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Grieg: Lyric Pieces

Grieg: Lyric Pieces


Lyric Pieces Op. 12: No. 1 - Arietta

Lyric Pieces Op. 38: No. 1 - Berceuse

Lyric Pieces Op. 38: No. 6 - Elegy

Lyric Pieces III (6), Op. 43

Valse-Impromptu, Op. 47 No. 1

Lyric Pieces Op. 47: No. 3 - Melody

Lyric Pieces Op. 47: No. 7 - Elegy

Lyric Pieces Op. 54: No. 3 - March of the Trolls

Lyric Pieces Op. 54: No. 4 - Nocturne

Lyric Pieces Op. 54: No. 6 - Bell-Ringing

Lyric Pieces Op. 57: No. 6 - Homesickness

Lyric Pieces Op. 62: No. 1 - Sylph

From early years, Op. 65 No. 1

Lyric Pieces Op. 65: No. 4 - Salon

Lyric Pieces Op. 65: No. 6 - Wedding Day at Troldhaugen

Lyric Pieces Op. 68: No. 2 - Sailors' Song

Lyric Pieces Op. 68: No. 3 - At your feet

Lyric Pieces Op. 68: No. 5 - At the cradle

Lyric Pieces Op. 71: No. 2 - Summer's Eve

Lyric Pieces Op. 71: No. 3 - Puck

Lyric Pieces Op. 71: No. 7 - Remembrances

Lyric Pieces Op. 62: No. 6 - Homeward

Since the dawn of the gramophone era Grieg’s Lyric Pieces have attracted the greatest pianists to the microphone. Their individual brevity played a part in this, of course, but rather more so did their intellectual transparency. For this new recording Stephen Hough has chosen twenty-seven (of the sixty-six), a generous selection encompassing every nuace of emotion, every tone of pianistic mastery.

“His performances are wonderfully direct, without a trace of indulgence...With Hough, the music always comes first.” The Guardian, 28th April 2015 ****

“With his virtuoso technique — which makes flashier pieces sound easy — he makes light work of Grieg’s marching trolls (Op 54/3), initially comical, later more menacing...His poetic eloquence and cantabile playing evoke magic...The entire programme shows Hough in his element: our foremost Romantic pianist.” Sunday Times, 24th May 2015

“Hough is up there with the best; may we never take his excellence for granted. ..Hough's detachment - it's a small thing - is also telling in its way, the detail and overview consistently in balance. His virtuosity, polish, control of nuance and a huge range of dynamics are lovely to have.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2015

Presto Discs of 2015


GGramophone Awards 2016

Shortlisted - Instrumental

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Grieg - Songs

Grieg - Songs


Seks Digte af Ibsen, Op. 25 (Texts: Henrik Ibsen)

Seks Sange, Op. 48

Haugtussa, Op. 67

Hjertets melodier, Op. 5 (Texts: Hans Christian Andersen)

The Princess, EG133

Katarina Karnéus (mezzo-soprano) & Julius Drake (piano)

Hyperion is delighted to present a disc of Grieg’s songs. Grieg’s sheer range as a song-writer—from the shortest settings, folk-like and immediate, to the depth of distinctive inspiration that runs through every bar of the major cycle Haugtussa—places him without question among the finest masters of the genre. Arne Garborg’s verse-novel Haugtussa created a deep impression on Grieg. The resulting marriage of poetry and music is one of the miracles of the nineteenth-century song-cycle genre. Many regard this work as Grieg’s masterpiece: it is certainly one of the greatest song-cycles for the female voice ever written, revealing the composer at the very height of his powers.

“Karnéus is a singer of natural warmth and spontaneity who possesses what Grieg called the gift of "reading between the lines" and "interpreting a half-told tale"… A glorious disc.” The Telegraph, 5th July 2008

“Grieg's aim was to invest the Norwegian art song with the status - national, as well as aesthetic - of the German lied. That he succeeded is borne out by every track of this beautifully programmed disc...Karnéus's performances are thrillingly awash with grand passions and high voltage drama. Drake is faultless.” The Guardian, 11th July 2008 ****

“There can never be too many recordings of Grieg's masterpiece, Haugtussa ('The Mountain Maid')… In the mezzo-soprano of Katarina Karnéus, Haugtussa becomes a darkly erotic tale…” BBC Music Magazine, Proms 2008 ****

“The Swedish mezzo has illustrious rivals but delights in Grieg's tuneful songs… in Haugtussa. Karnéus and Julius Drake are all over the imagery, scenery and sexuality of Garborg's verse novel in thrilling and well worked detail.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2008

“Anne Sofie von Otter's Grieg recital for DG (see above) did much to encourage singers outside Scandinavia to bring back to the concert platform – and the public again to listen to – songs which their great-grandparents knew well but their parents had almost forgotten. Now another front-ranking Swedish mezzo-soprano has recorded core components of the Grieg song repertoire. Like her compatriot, Katarina Karnéus includes the Op 67 'Mountain Maid' cycle, the Ibsen settings, the six German lyrics of Op 48 and the early Hans Christian Andersen 'Melodies of the Heart', adding, suitably, the less well known 'The Princess' to words by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson.
Compare Karnéus, von Otter and Kirsten Flagstad (one of at least three recordings) in Haugtussa.
Karnéus and Julius Drake are all over the imagery, scenery and sexuality of Garborg's verse novel in thrilling and well worked detail. Flagstad may appear at first hearing to be limiting herself to heroic declamation and her pianist (regular collaborator Edwin McArthur) just mapping out the written notes, but her sheer joy in singing her own language, and the subtlety of her pointing of the text (a half-smile, a raised eyebrow) and cunning use of her large voice make their own points.
Von Otter has something of both sides – a weightier tone and more reserve than Karnéus but a much wider colour range than Flagstad chooses to deploy – and Bengt Forsberg is a magician in these accompaniments.
Elsewhere the Karnéus performances are good and lively in the Scandinavian lyrics (a passionate 'Jeg elsker dig', a good range of moods in the Ibsen settings), more formal in the German settings.
All Saints Church in Finchley, north London, sounds especially resonant here, not everywhere an advantage in such text-oriented settings. Lots to enjoy and celebrate then, but don't ignore the competition.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

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Grieg - String Quartets

Grieg - String Quartets


String Quartet in G minor, Op. 27

String Quartet No.2 in F major

‘High-class playing and recording’ (Gramophone)

“The First Quartet is dense, intense, and given its full due in this grand reading. Striking account, too, of one of Grieg's incomplete Second, semi-completed by Levon Chilingirian.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2007 *****

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Grieg - The Violin Sonatas

Grieg - The Violin Sonatas


Violin Sonata No. 1 in F major, Op. 8

Violin Sonata No. 2 in G major, Op. 13

Violin Sonata No. 3 in C minor, Op. 45

Solo piano minatures - At Home Op. 43 No. 3, Puck Op. 71 No. 3, Lonely Wanderer Op. 43 No. 2, Scherzo-Impromptu Op. 73 No. 2, Grandmother's Minuet Op. 68 No. 2 & Dance from Jölster Op. 17 No. 5

arranged for violin and piano by Joseph Achron

Hagai Shaham (violin) & Arnon Erez (piano)

“…in vivacious movements… the sheer verve of the playing is irresistible. The dancelike sections of the Third Sonata's finale make a similar impression and its 'big' tune is wonderfully well graded, with the cumulative, immediate effect of a fine live performance.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2006

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Hommage à Chopin

Hommage à Chopin


Impromptu on the themes of two Preludes by Chopin


Hommage à Chopin, Op. 111, No. 1

Berkeley, L:

Three Mazurkas, Op. 32 No. 1


10 Variations on a Prelude of Chopin

Godard, B:

No. 2: Hommage à Chopin from Lanterne magique, Op. 66


Walzermasken No. 7 'Profil (Chopin)'


No 5: Studie 'Hommage à Chopin' from Moods, Op. 73


Souvenir de Chopin


No. 9: Hommage à Chopin from Contes de jeunesse, Op. 46


Variations sur un theme de Chopin


Notturno 'La réminiscence de Chopin;, Op. 48 No. 1


Un poco di Chopin (No. 15 from Morceaux, Op. 72)


Hommage a Chopin

2010 sees the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth, and among the many celebratory recordings, this disc will stand out as an historic record of the composer’s extraordinary influence and legacy.

Chopin’s unique style of piano writing was to utterly transform the way in which composers wrote for and thought about the instrument. Few escaped some aspect of that legacy until the early years of the twentieth century; and few pianists have not had Chopin’s music in their concert repertoire. Small wonder that so many composers and pianistcomposers— major and minor—have felt moved to pay their respects to a musician for whom there is almost universal approbation. A fascinating selection of hommages are represented here.

Jonathan Plowright has recently been described as ‘one of the finest living pianists; the possessor of qualities that should no longer remain a secret’ (Gramophone). His formidable technique and musical integrity combine in a disc which is a must for any pianophile.

“This is an imaginative way of marking Chopin’s bicentenary without adding to the already amply stocked CD catalogue of his own works. Jonathan Plowright provides a fascinating conspectus of how Chopin’s example has sparked ideas in others...This disc is a delight.” The Telegraph, 18th February 2010 *****

“Plowright’s dazzling playing can’t be faulted.” Sunday Times, 21st February 2010 ***

“Most of these pieces are light, even frothy morceaux, and Plowright does not overstate the musical case for them beyond their obvious delights of refinement and dexterity. But he balances them with two superb sets of variations on Chopin themes: Busoni's late Ten Variations on the C minor Prelude and Frederico Mompou's substantial work on another Prelude, Op. 28 No. 7. Mompou's 11th variation is the sublimest track on the disc. ...in places like these that Plowright shows his real qualities as a virtuoso, especially his clarity of texture and instinct for phrasing.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2010 *****

“on this magnificent and richly enterprising disc you can hear Chopin's idiom refracted, as it were, through the prism of several richly diverse personalities...All of these multifaceted offerings...show Jonathan Plowright as beguiling in his intimacy as he is magisterial in virtuosity.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - April 2010

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Mendelssohn, Grieg & Hough: Cello Sonatas

Mendelssohn, Grieg & Hough: Cello Sonatas


Cello Sonata in A minor, Op. 36


Sonata for cello and piano left hand 'Les adieux'


Cello Sonata No. 2 in D major, Op. 58

Steven Isserlis (cello) & Stephen Hough (piano)

Grieg’s sole Cello Sonata has long been a favourite of performers and audiences, if not of musical theorists, and here receives an impassioned vote of confidence from Steven Isserlis and Stephen Hough at the head of a programme which takes the listener forwards in time to Hough’s own Sonata for cello and piano left hand and back to Mendelssohn’s ever-popular Cello Sonata No 2. A spirit of passionate romanticism unifies the whole.

“everywhere their reading [of the Grieg] glints with conviction...Isserlis is matchless in the way he tugs at the simple melody to heart-rending effect...[The Hough is] unafraid to breathe an air of nostalgia...but the results are refreshingly personal...The performance couldn't be more persuasive and the two players are beautifully recorded.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2015

“If any reminder were needed that Steven Isserlis is at the top of his game, this is it...Their opening Allegro agitato is a thrilling tour de force, Isserlis sinewy and febrile, Hough's sound lucid and full-bodied with an ideal recorded balance.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2015 *****

“Isserlis supplies the rush of emotion to Stephen Hough’s accompaniment.” Financial Times, 17th July 2015

Presto Discs of 2015


GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - July 2015

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Panis angelicus

Panis angelicus

Favourite Motets from Westminster Cathedral

Bach, J S:

Cantata BWV147 'Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben': Jesu, bleibet meine Freude

Music from Cantata No 147


Ave verum corpus, Op. 2 No. 1


Maria Mater gratiae Op. 47 No. 2

Cantique de Jean Racine, Op. 11

Franck, C:

Panis Angelicus


Ave Maria


Ave Maris Stella

Harris, W:

Faire is the heaven


Ave Maria, H49, Op. 9b

Nunc dimittis, H127


Ave verum corpus


Ave Maria, Op. 23 No. 2

I waited for the Lord


Ave verum corpus, K618


O salutaris hostia


Psalm 23 'Gott ist mein Hirt', D706


Tantum ergo


Hymne à la Vierge, Op. 24

“A beautiful disc of sacred motets from one of this country’s finest choirs” Classic FM Magazine

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Rare Piano Encores

Rare Piano Encores




Serenade ‘Deh vieni alla finestra' from Mozart's Don Giovanni

Friedman, I:

Viennese Dance No. 2 (after Eduard Gärtner)


Promenade (Walking the Dog)


Blithe Bells


Ich liebe Dich, piano transcription, Op. 41 No. 3

Howard, L:

Yuletide Pastoral Op. 33a

Réminiscences de l'opéra ‘La Wally' de Catalani Op. 24


Valse oubliée No. 4, S.215/4

Soirées de Vienne: valse-caprice No. 6 (after Schubert), D427 No. 6

Valse de concert sur deux motifs de Lucia et Parisina (Donizetti)


Chanson Bohème de l'Opéra Carmen de Georges Bizet


Romance in E flat Op. 8 No. 2


Mariä Wiegenlied, Op. 76 No. 52


Petite Caprice (style Offenbach)


Valse Caprice in E flat major


Albumblatt (In das Album der Fürstin M.)

'Wreathed in laurels for his marathon cycle of Liszt's complete piano works, the Australian born, London based pianist Leslie Howard has come up with a typically bright idea to showcase his digital dexterity' (The Observer)

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The Maiden’s Prayer

The Maiden’s Prayer

and other gems from an old piano stool


The Maiden's Prayer


Minuets WoO 10 - No. 2 in G major

Durand, M A:

Première Valse Op. 83


Humoresque in G flat major, Op. 101 No. 7


Poème Op. 41 No. 14


Notturno from Lyric Suite, Op. 54


Romance for Piano, Op. 45 No. 1


Keyboard Suite, HWV 430 in E major 'The Harmonious Blacksmith': Air & Variations

Herbert, V:

La Coquette - valse brillante


To a Wild Rose, Op. 51 No. 1

Mason, W:

Silver Spring, Op. 6


Song without Words, Op. 62 No. 6 in A major 'Spring Song'


Serenata in D major, Op. 15 No. 1

Nevin, E W:

Narcissus, Op. 13 No. 4


Minuet in G major, Op. 14 No. 1


May Night, Op. 27 No. 4


Toccata in A


Tarantella in A minor


Poupée valsante


La Fileuse Op. 157 No. 2


Melody in F major, Op. 3 No. 1


The Spruce Tree Op. 75 No. 5


Frühlingsrauschen (Rustle of Spring), Op. 32 No 3


Chanson triste, Op. 40 No. 2

None of us can deny that they have fallen prey to the lure of a junk shop or of the chaotic mysteries of an attic, and sometimes purchasers of an old wardrobe or chest of drawers find there a bundle of treasure left behind … well, the spirit of ‘What have we here?’ permeates the adventures captured on this album. Salon music had its heyday on record in the era of 78s, since the length of a side suited it so well, and for that reason some titles— such as Rubinstein’s Melody in F and Paderewski’s Minuet in G—may be familiar, but there are ‘finds’ to be had in any such compilation. This is music on which most aspiring pianists have cut their teeth, giving them as it does both the satisfaction of mastering a complete piece without straining their technique (well, mostly) as well as the backbone of a repertoire that makes for a welcome family evening around the piano; alas for us all that we cannot offer renderings of such sympathetic finesse and lyrical elegance as are here set down by Philip Martin ‘at home’ and off-duty from his award-winning complete Gottschalk recordings on Hyperion.

“This repertoire is as delightful to listen to as it is to play … perfect evening listening” Classic FM Magazine

“You may wonder when you last heard such beguiling, fine-toned fluency … this is a delectable disc finely recorded” Gramophone Magazine

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