Sigurd Slåttebrekk (Grieg's own piano at Troldhaugen), Edvard Grieg (piano, 1903 acoustic recordings)
Tony Harrison (creative director)
On this fascinating new release pianist Sigurd Slåttebrekk has attempted to recreate the performance of Edvard Grieg’s own pioneering acoustic recording from 1903 of several of his solo pieces. The session was recorded on Grieg’s own 1892 Steinway at Troldhaugen. On the bonus second CD he is joined by the Oslo Philharmonic and conductor Michail Jurowski in a performance of Grieg’s Piano Concerto.
Sigurd Slåttebrekk has previously released acclaimed recordings of Ravel and Schumann, co-created the animated TV-series "Elias" for children (Emmy nomination 2006) and is now finishing his thesis on late 19th Century pianist performing styles. Tony Harrison is a classical music producer regarded as among the foremost and most creative in his field today.
The 1903 acoustic recordings of Grieg playing nine of his own piano pieces are well known. Sigurd Slåttebrekk and creative director Tony Harrison were drawn to the artistic quality of the playing itself, and this evolved into a historic pioneering project of 'musical archaeology', reviving a performance tradition from over a hundred years ago. They have listened in depth to each detail of Grieg's own playing and tried to imitate the performances at Grieg's piano at Troldhaugen. Slåttebrekk has not only recorded the pieces Grieg himself made, he has also further applied what he has learned about Grieg’s approach to performance in his completion of the Sonata in E minor, and the epic Ballade in G minor.
“Primitive recording technology had previously rendered these precious historical documents musically indecipherable, but thanks to the painstaking efforts of producer Tony Harrison they now sound amazingly vivid...Slåttebrekk has fully absorbed Grieg's fresh and engaging interpretative approach, and imaginatively applies it to his own marvellous performances” BBC Music Magazine, April 2011 *****
“Slåttebrekk has painstakingly and brilliantly mimicked every last inflection, nuance and tempo employed by Grieg. Flick between the two men playing the same tracks and, if it weren't for the hiss over the 1903 version, you'd struggle to tell them apart. Slåttebrekk's overall aim was more than mimicry though...His reading of the Piano Concerto, recorded without a 1903 version to imitate, demonstrates his success, positively crackling with freshness and vitality.” Classic FM Magazine, May 2011 *****
“The performances by Sigurd Slåtterbrekk stem from a forensic examination of those recordings, during which every nuance of Grieg's playing was studied.” The Guardian, 31st March 2011 ***
“This is a strange set, but a curiously compelling one as well...Just how exactly the two pianists match one another can be judged from a bit of studio trickery in which the well-known Wedding Day at Troldhaugen splices their performances together...this is certainly a project that gets you thinking.” The Telegraph, 7th April 2011 ****
“[The performances] seek to emulate rather than imitate...Tempi are invariably on the brisk side and Grieg's own performances, heard very much through a glass darkly, are of a zest, freshness and freedom that themselves are at the heart of Slåttebrekk's playing...these performances are of a moving poetic empathy and musical devotion.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2011