Grieg: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op 16; Symphony in C minor

Reviewed on Fri 30 Jan, 2015

'Surely, not another recording of Grieg's Piano Concerto?' I hear you groan. Well, this one is, I think, rather special. Not only does the Romanian-German virtuoso Herbert Schuch respond with wholly disarming affection, keen poetry, exquisite grace and all the freshness of new discovery, Eivind Aadland and his audibly fired-up Cologne band play their full part in an outstandingly sensitive, urgently communicative display that made me fall in love all over again with Grieg's enchanting score. This fine Norwegian conductor and his admirable orchestra also come up trumps in the early Symphony in C minor: completed in 1864 when the budding composer was only 20, it's an endearingly lithe, solidly crafted offering that owes much to Mendelssohn and Schumann. Grieg withdrew it in 1867 when he encountered (and was well and truly bowled over by) his countryman Johan Svendsen's marvellous First Symphony – after which it was not heard again for fully 113 years. Wonderfully realistic SACD sound sets the seal on this latest unmissable instalment in Aadland's stellar Grieg series for Audite.
–Andrew Achenbach