Edvard Grieg: Piano Concerto in A Minor Pianist – Valentina Lisitsa

The Piano Concerto in A minor is perhaps the best-known work by the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg (1843–1907).  Composed in 1868, the concerto’s first performance took place in 1869 in Copenhagen.  As Geoff Kuenning writes, “It has since become a favorite with audiences worldwide, and with good reason, for from the unforgettably dramatic opening cadenza to the sweepingly grand final chords, the concerto is filled with invention, originality, and sparkle that cannot help but please the ear.”

The soloist in this video is Valentina Lisitsa, whom I first became aware of through YouTube.  In this performance, which took place in December 2008, Valentina is accompanied by the Seoul Philharmonic under the direction of James  Judd.  This collaboration reminds me of a comment by Sarah Chang about music being the one and only universal language: we have a concerto by a Norwegian composer, played by a Ukrainian/American pianist and a Korean orchestra, conducted by an Englishman.

Part 1 includes most of the first movement.  Part 2 begins with the cadenza that concludes the first movement and continues with the lyrical second movement, which always calls to mind – my mind, at least – the great outdoors of Grieg’s native Norway.  Part 3 begins with the end of the second movement, and moves without pause into the third and final movement.  I invite you to note especially the beautiful flute solo which begins at the 3:35 mark, followed by a lovely duet between the piano and first cello.

I hope you feel as I do, that this concerto by Grieg is a joy from beginning to end.  Clearly the audience at this performance in Seoul felt that joy, as they invited Valentina Lisitsa back onstage for four (!) encores, which we will hear in our next post.

Published in: on November 17, 2009 at 7:19 am  Comments (9)  
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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you for posting on Valentina Lisitsa. I discovered her on YouTube recently as well, and was instantly entranced by her beautiful music and graceful movements, which are without peer.

    And thank you for this blog, I’ve discovered wonderful new music and artists through your site. If I could make one recommendation on an artist profile, I would love for you to do a piece on George Li, who has his own channel on YouTube as well. Despite his young age, he is a world-class talent and infuses youth and energy into his music. His Mendelssohn Piano Concerto #1 ranks as one of the most enjoyable performances I have ever seen.

    I know you were able to recently interview Szuyu “Rachel” Su, and I would be even more interested if you would be able to interview George, given his talent and success at such a young age. He has been interviewed (briefly, on television) before, but it was definitely inadequate. And he seems very engaged with his YouTube fans so it seems like he would be interested in an interview. I would especially like to know how he handles the pressures of such high-level performances! Thanks again.

    • Thank you for the great feedback; I’m delighted that you like the blog. I will look into George Li’s YouTube channel today.

  2. The concerto is different indeed. Not something an amateur player can pull off.


  4. Gratissimas…Valentina Lisitsa es una de las mejores pianistas del mundo y este concierto de Grieg es mi favorito y es una panacea para el alma..espíritu

  5. Thanks for the post. I had fallen in love with Grieg concerto after seeing it played by Julia Fisher. More than happy to learn about him and find about excellent player.

  6. It seems that if she only needed to continue a little higher (4:20-4:26) she would have exploded of emotion and excitement. And just how much she enjoys herself at 7:20, smiling an inner smile.

  7. I stumbled on your great site because of the Grieg. Love it and know it by heart. Years ago, my sister played it with the Jackson Symphony for her high school senior recital. It is so refreshing to see a artist play the music properly, without theatrics.

    • Thank you for your kind remarks. I agree with you about theatrics.

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