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Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Ballade in G minor, Op. 24 [18:48]
Six Lyric Pieces from Opp. 38, 43, 54, 65 [16:49]
Four Slåtter, from Op. 72 [10:25]
Piano Sonata in E minor, Op. 7 [17:36]
Cheryl FRANCES-HOAD (1980-)
Contemplation, lyric piece in homage to Grieg [2:18]
Ivana Gavric (piano)
rec. 14 October, 2012, and 18-19 May, 2013, Music Room, Champs Hill, West Sussex, UK
CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD067 [66:02]

Edvard Grieg was a master of the miniature, but Ivana Gavric’s recital is counterintuitively dominated by his two biggest works. The Ballade is a powerful series of variations which has lived on in the repertoire of a handful of great pianists; the Sonata is an early piece that still shows Grieg near his best form. It does feel a little like a set of miniatures.
 
Gavric continues to show all the qualities that made her first two albums so exciting (In the mists ~ From the street). Her playing is consistently very fine, whether she’s keeping a firm, consistent hand on the twists and turns of the Ballade or articulating some of Grieg’s quirky Slåtter. The booklet compares the Slåtter to Debussy and Bartók, and Gavric brings these qualities out, along with sprightly folk-rhythms that remind you who really wrote them. “Wedding Day at Troldhaugen” is a standout performance that deserves radio play. The encore is interesting: Cheryl Frances-Hoad starts with a Grieg motif and creates a new Lyric Piece from scratch.
 
Gavric is, unfortunately, hindered by the engineering, which feels a little boxy and dry. Champs Hill, usually so good about that sort of thing, must have had an off-day. Gavric’s sense of drama is undercut by the sound, particularly in the last few minutes of the Ballade. One thing you can do to help is turn up the volume a little too much.
 
If this isn’t on the level of Gavric’s first two albums, that is because those were so outstanding. The Grieg recital is still very much worth hearing, and Ivana Gavric is still very much an exciting young artist to watch.
 
Brian Reinhart