Header Image (book)


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Musical Interlude

One of my Facebook finds:

[about composer Edvard Grieg]

[about Piano Concerto in A Minor]

[about pianist Radu Lupu]


  1. The Grieg irobably the most popular piano concerto ever written. It appeared in several Hollywood movies –– namely THE SEVENTH VEIL a melodrama with Ann Todd as "Trilby" and James Mason as "Svengali," and TOO YOUNG TO KISS ,a comedy with June Allyson as a concert pianist and Van Johnson as her manager, who, of course falls in love with her. In this movie Allyson, wh was 35 at the time, pretends to be a bratty child prodigy, so her playing can attract more favorable attention. She dresses the part most convincingly, so Johnson's character does not realize the deception at first. What ensues is lots of fun.

    At any rate, it's always a pleasure to hear the Grieg concerto, which I learnt at age 14, but never performed, Alas!

    I was terribly disillusioned to learn recently that Artur Rubinstein, who'd been one of my earliest heroes, regarded the piece with amused contempt saying the European Musial Establishment didn't take it seriously. He also said it appealed only to Bourgeois American taste.

    It shattered a fond illusion to hear that, because I had never before realized how arrogant Rubinstein really was. He was conceited too. A great player, of course, –– but very far from being THE greatest –– which is what he and impresario Sol Hurok successfully led the public to believe for too many years,

    The Grieg is a BEAUTIFUL piece of music whose quality is UNIQUE. Grieg may have been at his best, however, in the myriad "Lyric Pieces" he wrote, each a gem that rivals the best of Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words and the literature known as German Lieder –– a very high form of musical art.

  2. One of my favorite "old chestnuts' that I love. He zips right along! Thanks.

  3. FreeThinke Undisguised

    Radu Lupu was one of the best pianists to emerge in his generation. Unfortunately he died a bit before his time. His is a wonderful performance of the Grieg, but I like this one by Guiomar Novaes even better. Perhaps some day you might want to listen it, and see if you don't agree?


    Novaes was the seventeenth child born to a very large family from Brazil. She was an immensely gifted child prodigy who at age fourteen was awarded a full scholarship to the Paris Conservatory after coming in first in a field of over three-hundred applicants. Claude Debussy and Gabriel Fauré were on the jury, and were so impressed with the young girl's artistry, they asked her to repeat one of her selections, Chopin's Ab-Major Ballade –– not to test her further, but simply for the joy of hearing her uniquely beautiful interpretation.

    Artists of Novaes' sublime caliber only come along no more than once every 50-75 years. She had rare endearing qualities of insight and character that can neither be taught nor imitated.

    1. FT,
      Wow! What a rendition of this piece!

      Thank you for the link, and I shall send it to my Facebook friend who alerted me to the version I posted in the body of this blog post. BTW, this Facebook friend was my first-ever piano student.

    2. FT,
      My former piano student responded:

      Wow! What precision. I listened to the last part of the first movement, all of the second and third. She did a fantastic job with the solo in the second, and I think I've never heard the third movement as un-rushed and un-muddied. She may be the ultimate in clarity. I think though I still like Lupu's just a tad faster tempo and less use of rubato a little better. This is masterful, though. She could maybe have used the London Symphony Orchestra like Lupu had. That was the best orchestra I've heard.

      There are two annoying commercials in this but it's a better recording than the Lupu I posted on FB I think.
      It's hard to say which movement is best of this concerto. My favorite part is the final build-up starting at 28:10.

      She plays the waltz here at 19:10 perfectly:


      Extreme talent in all these Etudes. Amazing. I spot- checked.


  4. Love this find. But indeed, as FT has said, the classical music establishment in Europe had lower opinions of much of the post-18th century Austria-Germanic era of composition, of so-called "program music" and Grieg was shoved into this pigeon hole.


We welcome civil dialogue at Always on Watch. Comments that include any of the following are subject to deletion:
1. Any use of profanity or abusive language
2. Off topic comments and spam
3. Use of personal invective