"Grieg’s ideal sound for these works was not of a small, intimate chamber ensemble, but a full, rich, symphonic string sound. The Malmö Symphony Orchestra under conductor Bjarte Engeset produces just such a sound: vibrant, shimmering violins; assertive, powerful violas; and articulate, resonating cellos and basses. Engeset’s own heritage allows him to accentuate the Nationalistic sentiments and scenic vistas Grieg incorporates into his scores. The lyrical, singing qualities of those pieces transcribed from songs are maintained with beautifully crafted, well-connected lines. The Baroque stylings of the Holberg Suite are executed with crisp, clean articulation and a nice contrast from the deeper, more Romantic works on the rest of the album. The disc closes with an equally lush and rousing performance of the Op. 54 Lyric Suite, the only work on the program not for strings alone."
Mike D. Brownell - Allmusic.com - December 2011
"A new addition to a generous series of Grieg recordings on the Naxos label offers his music for strings, beautifully played by the Malmo Symphony Orchestra of Sweden under the conductor Bjarte Engeset. Writing for just this segment empowered Grieg, and these works are masterly. Grieg often mined folk tunes for melodic ideas, and many of the pieces here are arrangements of his songs and piano pieces. “Two Elegiac Melodies,” originally songs, shimmer and glow in their string versions. In the second one, “The Last Spring,” every twist in the beguiling melody, at once poignant and consoling, is cushioned with Grieg’s plaintive chromatic harmonies."
Anthony Tommasini - The New York Times - January 2012
Artistic Quality 10 Sound Quality 10
"The excellence of Bjarte Engeset’s Grieg recordings speaks for itself. As with previous releases in this series, the performances are outstanding. Much of this music is slow and nostalgic, and Engeset paces it perfectly. Engeset lets the music’s romantic pedigree shine through. The sonics are terrific too."
David Hurwitz - ClassicsToday.com - December 2011
"When it came to composing music for strings, Edvard Grieg’s approach was “The bigger, the better.” Not for him music for concert orchestra or specialist strings; instead he wrote for—and often stipulated performance by—the joined string sections of a symphony orchestra. Sixty was a good number.The result is a music that is full of body, with different string sections able to play competitively or in support of one another.Grieg’s Holberg Suite was one result: there is real volume and strength in the work, and this, together with the careful referencing of Baroque and Rococo styles and themes, has helped make it hugely popular." *****
Alexander Bryce - Scotland on Sunday - February 2012
"Engeset has the Malmö Symphony strings at their full, rich best, creating a deep sound which enjoys great clarity ... The more trifling tunes are really charmingly done here, especially the Two Nordic Melodies, which are actually three (!) and utterly wonderful. As a bonus we get the Lyric Suite, arrangements of four of the Lyric Pieces for piano, with a rhythmically addictive Gangar and a totally delightful March of the Dwarves. As through the whole program, the Malmö Symphony combines a warm, full palette of colors with rhythmic precision... Engeset’s latest CD hits the spot."
Brian Reinhart - MusicWeb-International.com - February 2012
"It’s difficult to avoid a whole disc of Grieg’s music for strings becoming an overdose of Nordic niceness. However, Engeset and the Malmö SO have done so to an impressive extent. Considering too the budget Naxos price, this is purchase-worthy." ****
Charlotte Gardner - Classic FM - February 2012
"...Music that falls pleasantly in the ear."
Ralph Moore - musicweb-international.com - 12 June 2012
"...This disc, the latest installment of Bjarte Engeset’s survey of Grieg’s works, is as satisfying as it is entertaining. Engeset does Grieg as well as anyone these days. Try it. You’ll like it."
George Chien - Fanfare - March/April 2012
"...The playing is warm and romantic, the phrasing superb... this is delicious music ..."
Vroon - American Record Guide - January-February 2012
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