Grieg: Evenings in the Mountains: Op. 68, No. 4

This is has to be one of the most unusual short pieces ever written, and I’ve struggled with it for at least 25 years. The first page appears to be so simple that a small child could play it. After a few octaves in the left hand in the introduction, there is only one note and one hand. It’s something a solo instrument might play, maybe violin. Or flute. Or it could be sung.

I think most of all it is like someone singing.

But Greig picked oboe for his orchestration. He must have been very serious about this piece because he took the time to write it out for full orchestra. The challenge to a pianist is somehow to convey all the richness of a full orchestra with only two hands and a great deal of imagination.

The second page is really hard.

When the 2nd page comes, suddenly that same melody is on the top part of the right hand, with huge chords in the left hand. This is actually quite hard to play and was a big challenge for me.

Just what is it about music from Russia and Scandinavia that is so different? To me it is terribly moody, and often dark. I find that feeling incredibly powerful, and convincing. It’s all over the place in Tchaikovky and Rachmaninov.

3 thoughts on “Grieg: Evenings in the Mountains: Op. 68, No. 4

  1. This music is extraordinary, and you nailed it. What Louie wrote about nordics – as a Canadian who lived in the far north and in such expanses, it speaks to me that way. If I thought myself capable, I’d want to learn to play it.

  2. My impression is that Russia and all the Nordics swapped music and cultures freely over the centuries, as they have something in common: A border, to some degree, and those winters.

Leave a Reply