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The magic of a “time machine” brings Percy Grainger’s original performance back to life in this modern surround-sound recording with the Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra conducted by Rolf Gupta. Edvard Grieg himself bears witness to the validity and authenticity of Grainger’s interpretation through his own enthusiastic endorsement: “I had to become sixty-four years old to hear Norwegian piano music interpreted so understandingly and brilliantly. He breaks new ground for himself, for me, and for Norway. And then this enchanting, profound, serious, and childlike naturalness! What a joy to gain a young friend with such qualities!”
In 2007, conductor Rolf Gupta gave the first Norwegian performance of Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor with the legendary Australian pianist Percy Grainger (1882-1961) as the posthumous soloist. On this recording, the Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra accompanies Grainger’s original and controversial interpretation of the concerto. In addition, the violinist Øyvind Bjorå and pianolist Rex Lawson perform Grieg’s Violin Sonata in C minor. The recording also includes a handful of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces, performed by the composer himself. Astonishingly, these performances have not been available to the public until now.
Two different instruments have facilitated Grainger’s and Grieg’s encounters with the KSO/Gupta in modern times. Grainger plays on a form of musical time machine, the Duo-Art reproducing piano, which is something like an analogue predecessor of the computer, powered by an electric suction pump, and controlled automatically by perforated rolls of paper. Grieg, on the other hand, has been restored to life by means of a foot-pedalled pianola, played by Rex Lawson. For this recording, both instruments were fitted in front of a Steinway concert grand piano and re-performed the playing of Grainger in 1921 and Grieg in 1906.