Edvard Grieg (1843 - 1907): Concert Overture "In Autumn", Op. 11; Piano Concerto in A minor, Op.16; Symphonic Dances, Op. 64. Performed by Havard Gimse, piano, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, directed by Bjarte Engeset. Recorded at the Henry Wood Hall in Glasgow, Scotland, in May 2003. Published in 2004 as Naxos 8.557279 and also available as a DVD-Audio or as a hybrid SACD. Total playing time: 71'47".
I'm afraid I have to disagree with the other review currently on the site: although this is a fascinating program, it left me a little disappointed. Of the three pieces on the disc, it was the "Symphonic Dances" which I liked best. This is one of Grieg's later works, written just nine years before his death, and Bjarte Engeset does well to perform it as a whole (Grieg having almost written a symphony), rather than just emphasizing the dance characteristics of the individual movements. The famous "Piano Concerto" (this recording appears to replace the earlier Naxos offering by Jenö Jandó and a Hungarian orchestra) comes over as laid-back and lyrical, somewhat belying the insistence of the notes on Grieg's youthful "wildness". Although I am sure that Havard Gimse, whose concert grand is placed firmly in the foreground, makes an excellent job of this, I found myself missing some of the excitement generated by the Jandó. And with the Concert Overture "In Autumn", the piece which opens the program, I felt that this youthful attempt at capturing Norwegian nature was, despite some captivating moments, rather too diffuse to be more than an "hors d'oeuvre" for the other two better-known works.
Having said that, the performance would have been worth four stars if it had not been for the Naxos sound engineering, which, while a great deal better than the Slovakian attempts at Grieg that Naxos published 15 years earlier, was anything but convincing. After listening to the CD all the way through, I felt I had to test my equipment to make sure the problem was with the CD and not with the speakers! The large empty hall and the size of the orchestra seemed to prevent the engineer from getting an integrated sound, with the balance between the instruments unsatisfactory and a two-dimensional characteristic which tended to concentrate attention on the right-side speaker. And yes, my equipment was in good shape, when I put a disc from a major label on, everything clicked back into perfect balance.
Of course, I have no idea how the DSD recording of this performance sounds, which you can purchase on DVD-Audio or SACD. But the CD has its obvious weaknesses.