EDVARD GRIEG (1843-1907): Piano Quintet in B Flat, EG 118 (compl. Michael Finnissy), MICHAEL FINNISSY (b.1946): Grieg Quintettsatz.
Catalogue Number: 03P060
Description: The first thing to note about this release is that it is much more a Grieg CD than a Finnissy one, though the fact that it is so is a testament to Finnissy's skill. At first glance an unlikely combination, these elaborations of Grieg's abandoned Piano Quintet torso tell us not only about Finnissy's deep affection for Grieg, and his thorough knowledge of the romantic idiom that sounds so little like most of his own music, but also, no small amount about Grieg. The completion, in Grieg's style, consists of four sections in one span. Finnissy picks up from where Grieg's exposition stopped, and employs the recapitulation as a finale, with a scherzo and slow movement in between. The latter is gently nostalgic and pastoral, reminiscent of Grieg's Norwegian Melodies or Holberg Suite, while the former has echoes of the Slätter. The work strongly hints at what Grieg might have done had he had more opportunities to explore expansive structures in his mature years. Finnissy's Quintettsatz begins in Grieg's style, using the material of his exposition, though more freely than in the completion. Finnissy then uses extended versions of the slow movement and scherzo from his completion, venturing into Wagnerian territory and also suggesting some of the composers whom Grieg influenced, and this leads to the exposition repeat. Thereafter, we are in more familiar Finnissy territory, as the material - recognisably the same melodies and harmonies - is fractured and drifts apart, reuniting in unexpected ways, at first approximating the harmonic world of the Schoenberg of Varklaerte Nacht, then sounding like a decomstructed and reassembled version of that, with nostalgic reintroductions of fragments of Grieg's idiom. Fleeting modernist fragments and elaborate efflorescences on the original material are as close as this ever comes to New Complexity - which is to say, not very close at all. Roderick Chadwick (piano), Kreuzer Quartet.