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Post details: Piano Concerto in A Minor

Piano Concerto in A Minor

I have never been to Norway before.

But when I was sitting on a rocky quay in Utne, waiting for the ferry and trying to optically digest the lavish backdrop of the Hardangerfjord, I had a nagging feeling that I sat there before. And when I hiked along a narrow trail 600 meters over the Lysefjord, and could almost hear the vertigo humming its siren song, I would have sworn that I heard that song before. When I biked down the narrow valley to Flåm alongside a rushing river and my mind was snapping images of the stern beauty of steep mountains and the warm poetry of little farms stealing land from its slopes, I realized that those images were already stored in my memory. And when I walked around the stave church in Borgund, I instantly recognized the smell of its ancient rafters and the simple perspective of the valley in which it stood.

But it was not some strange case of a geographical deja-vu. I knew the spirit of all these places from Edvard Grieg's music, and specifically from his Piano Concerto in A minor.

A minor is a scale that makes use only of white piano keys, and in a few places of Grieg's score you can easily imagine that the ivories have just turned into a flock of sea gulls streaming across the ocean inlet and their flight lets you experience the three-dimensionality of Norwegian fjords on a very personal level.

Czech composer Bedrich Smetana once wrote a series of symphonic poems named "My Country" in which he celebrated the charm of the Bohemian countryside. Although his music was intentionally very descriptive and visual, it still does not compare to Grieg's. No other music that I know of is so deeply rooted in the substance of a country than his Piano Concerto.

You can think of it as a guided audio tour. No expensive air tickets to pay, no exorbitant transfer fees. Just close your eyes and you can almost see a pensive lake and the surrounding mountains smoothly reflecting off a polished soundboard of a Grand Piano. And you'll get to see much more if you turn your mind into a finely crafted Viking ship and let it sail on the crystal clear waters of this instrumental masterpiece.

Grieg wrote it when he was 25.



Comment from: Diane [Visitor]
Beautifully written. Those are two of my favorite pieces...Concert in A and Ma Vlast (specifically, The Moldau).
Permalink 10/09/08 @ 12:21

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