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When selections for the Classic FM Hall of Fame are made each year, we always subsume votes for particular sections of classical pieces into the larger work. So, opting for an individual aria means your vote counts towards the full opera, and if you were to choose a piano miniature that forms part of a larger set of pieces, your vote would be amalgamated into that set. In the case of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces, while it’s certainly true that we receive votes for a number of different compositions within the collection, the set’s success is down to one particular tune: Wedding Day at Troldhaugen.
It’s the sixth entry from Book 8 of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces, and was written to commemorate the composer’s own silver wedding anniversary. Grieg’s summer villa, built just outside Bergen in 1885, was also called Troldhaugen, so this particular tune was evidently full of meaning for him.
Wedding Day at Troldhaugen remains the most popular excerpt from Grieg’s Lyric Pieces by quite a long shot, but it would be remiss not to mention a few other descriptively titled pieces that all contribute to the music’s enduring popularity. Among them, the menacing March of the Trolls and the beautiful Nocturne, both of which were included in Grieg’s Lyric Suite, which was simply an orchestration of some his most popular Lyric Pieces.
Leif Ove Andsnes (piano). EMI Classics: 0946 3943992.
Illustration: Mark Millington