Masterclass: Grieg: To Spring - Entrada

February 17, 2022

Masterclass: Grieg: To Spring

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About three months ago, I was exercising while listening passively to the CD sampler of the Philips collection, Great Pianists of the 20th Century. Although I recognized most of the repertoire, one piece particularly caught my ear as I thought, “that sounded a bit like Rachmaninoff, but isn’t.” I went to the CD player and restarted the track. This time, it sounded like Grieg, but not something I recognized. 

So I read the liner notes. Sure enough, it was a Lyric Piece by Grieg: To Spring, Op. 43 No. 6, played by the terrific Hungarian pianist, Zoltán Kocsis. As I did more research, it became clear that To Spring is well-known, oft-recorded, and beloved by many. How did this piece escape my awareness for so long? 

I was smitten. As I indulged in learning and playing To Spring, it seemed like the ideal choice for a new Masterclass. I’m delighted that the full 41-minute tutorial has just been released on Entrada.

Some of the topics I cover include the “ebb and flow” rubato and proportional accelerando and ritardando that I believe Grieg has indicated–not only through his expressive markings but also with hairpins. I explore the musical sensibility of accompanying and opera conducting that seems inherent in this piece. 

Technically, To Spring is filled with challenges, including the three-dimensional shaping of repeated chords and arpeggios, as well as controlling orchestral forces written on three staves. My conception follows the marked Allegro appassionato and is closer to Kocsis’s and, it turns out, to Grieg’s own (his 1903 recording is on YouTube). Thus, we’ll file it as “early advanced” at Entrada, although much slower recordings exist (including by Richter and Lang Lang) that demonstrate that To Spring can also be played by pianists at an intermediate level. 

I hope To Spring brings you at least a fraction of the pleasure I’ve experienced by exploring its charms and, especially, its tremendous potential for interpreting Grieg’s expressive instructions with great imagination and color.



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