by Anthony Kershaw
Sandra Mogensen is a Canadian concert pianist at home both as a solo artist and accompanist. Here, she takes center stage in the first of two volumes of Grieg’s much underrated solo piano music.
Mogensen studied in her home province of Ontario as well as the Mozarteum in Salzburg and The Royal Danish Conservatory. To add to her to excellent credentials, Mogensen received extensive training at the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. As such, she is much in demand as a vocal coach. And this intimate knowledge of the voice imbues this disc with the most magical singing style.
My benchmark for a Grieg solo piano recording is the great Gilels on DGG. That Mogensen had me forgetting a gem of the DG catalogue is no small feat. Her touch, style and interpretation of these Grieg jewels is intoxicating. So much so, that I found myself dipping into the equally fine Volume 2 right after the end of Volume 1. There is so much rhythmic vitality here, none more so than in the justly famous Holberg Suite. I’ve always loved the Tortelier conducted version for string orchestra, but, once again, Mogensen’s sense of pace and energy will have you tapping. Superb! The more reflective tracks are absolutely beautiful — the piano sings and sighs, yet the rhythm never sags, the interest never wanes.
The recording is excellent, with the piano center stage and a nice sense of bloom around the attack, transients and decay. If you are a fan of the Gilels style and phrasing, buy Mogensens’ versions with confidence. Take this as an emphatic recommendation for both volumes. Happily, available at fine Canadian CD stores, iTunes, and from Mogensen’s website.