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Grieg’s Piano Concerto: A Passionate Love Letter To Norway

Pianist Lars Vogt

Edvard Grieg was just 24 when he wrote his only completed piano concerto in 1868. It's one of his greatest works, and launched his international career. WRTI’s Susan Lewis talks with pianist Lars Vogt about why he loves playing it.

Tune in on Sunday, October 22 at 1 pm on WRTI 90.1 to hear Lars Vogt perform Grieg’s Piano Concerto with The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Radio script:

Susan Lewis: Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor is passionate from the start. Pianist Lars Vogt has always loved it.

Lars Vogt: It comes right from the core of his heart I think. It’s very intuitive music, but very real and very honest. I love the opening of the second movement, but I also love the folksy dancing of the last movement—a sort of certain roughness and wildness about it. It has a whole range of very beautiful and strong emotion.

In 1909 it became the first piano concerto ever recorded.

SL: The piece has evoked comparisons with Schumann, whose concerto Grieg heard during his studies at Leipzig conservatory in his teens.

LV: And yet the color of it is very genuinely his own.

SL: Grieg combined his classical training with his love of country, conjuring Norway’s culture, landscape, history and folklore.

LV: It has wonderful tunes, it has fantastic dances, and it’s got beautiful colors that we associate with something Nordic, but I don’t feel it’s written for an outer success primarily. But it’s really maybe his love letter to his home country.

SL: The concerto was praised by Tchaikovsky and Liszt; in 1909 it became the first piano concerto ever recorded, and has since been recorded hundreds of times by artists all over the world.