Classics Today 10/10 June 2012; Music Web International: Recording of the Month July 2012.
Although his own instrument was the piano, Edvard Grieg grew up hearing great string players like Ole Bull, one of the finest violin virtuosi of the 19th century, and the celebrated folk-fiddler Torgeir Augundson, both of whom opened up for him the treasures of the Norwegian folk-music traditions. Their influence – as well as that of the great classical traditions of string music – would later inspire Grieg to produce a notable series of works for strings. On this disc, Richard Tognetti and the Australian Chamber Orchestra perform perennial favourites such as the Holberg Suite – composed in 1884 in an ‘olden style’ to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Danish-Norwegian playwright Ludvig Holberg – and the two Elegiac Melodies, Grieg’s own orchestrations of two of his best-loved songs: Last Spring and The Wounded Heart. The programme also includes Richard Tognetti’s adaptation of String Quartet No.1, a broadly conceived work which in its original form incorporates such rich textures and massive chordal effects that it translates strikingly well into the medium of a full string orchestra. Tognetti has likewise arranged the ravishingly lyrical piano composition Erotikk from the composer’s celebrated collection of Lyric Pieces, fashioning a highly romantic version for solo violin and strings. Previous recordings with Tognetti and the ACO on BIS, for instance of Mozart’s violin concertos on two discs, have been warmly received by the critics, with Gramophone’s reviewer describing the team as ‘an outstanding band’ with ‘a keen individual and collective feel for style and character’, and his colleague in The Observer praising their ‘gloriously exciting, tangy edged, alert and playful sound.’
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