Composed by Edvard Grieg, played by Biréli Lagrène
Edvard Grieg, a Scandahoovian of great imagination, wrote music that takes me to a place at once familiar and utterly different. It’s like reading a fairy tale. It feels as if I’ve been down this lane before and I remember that little house, I think, but maybe it was a dream I had some time ago. It doesn’t really matter, because the air feels good and anything can happen.
Biréli Lagrène, comes out of a similar, though more modern-seeming world of Django, Gypsies, and late night rendezvous and romance. Sweetness and passion underpin every one of the many notes he is capable of playing. The two of them together is such a wonderful surprise.
Grieg was helped in his musical journey by the great Norwegian violinist and composer, Ole Bull. In the northeast part of Loring Park, in Minneapolis, an old hangout, there is a bronze statue of Ole Bull, placed there in 1897, in honor of Ol’ Ole’s many visits to the Twin Cities, which began in 1856. It’s heroic and he is heroically sawing away there still.
During his life, in addition to Bull, Grieg met Niels Gade, Rikard Nordrakk, who composed the Norwegian national anthem, Franz Liszt, Percy Grainger, and Tchaikovsky. After a long illness, Grieg died in 1907. He was 64 and his last words were, “Well, if it must be so.”
Lagrene was born in 1966 to a musical Gypsy family and began playing at age four. He has played with all kinds of guys – Stéphane Grappelli, Jaco Pastorious, Benny Carter, and, even, Benny Goodman. Unfortunately, he is too young to have played with Jack Benny.