Leif Ove Andsnes first performed Grieg’s piano concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1993 at the orchestra’s Ravinia Festival in a special programme for young talent. He returns this autumn on the invitation for Riccardo Muti to celebrate the opening of the new season. Reviewing the concert the Chicago Sun Times wrote:
“The concert marked the beginning of Riccardo Muti’s 10th year as music director — an important milestone for any conductor in such a role, especially in today’s fast-changing orchestra world — and the program book rightfully highlighted some of his notable accomplishments so far …
“By far the best known work on the program was Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16, with one of the most eloquent and incisive keyboardists of our time as soloist — fellow Norwegian Leif Ove Andsnes. The pianist delivered nothing shy of a definitive performance of this ever-popular masterpiece, playing with poetic elegance, unyielding clarity and nuanced touch. Never overselling or pushing too hard, he conveyed the innate romanticism and beauty of this music.
“The long cadenza in the first movement is meant to impress and it did here in spades. Andsnes brought a spellbinding, inward-looking approach to this solo while realizing all of its showier effects with panache. It was hard not to break with etiquette and applaud afterward.
“Muti is a seasoned hand at accompaniment, and he and Andsnes were seamlessly in sync with each other, with the veteran conductor extending the feel and flow of the pianist’s playing to that of the orchestra.
“The end of the performance was greeted with cheers, and after a few ovations, Andsnes returned to the stage for a well-deserved encore — a wonderfully light and airy take on one of Grieg’s 66 “Lyric Pieces” — No. 2, “Gangar (Norwegian March)” from Book V, Op. 54.”
Source: Chicago Sun Times