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CD059:  A fine recital consolidating the growing reputation of a superb Norwegian pianist, this disc neatly complements the outstanding recent disc of Grieg Lyric Pieces from Leif Ove Andsnes (EMI, 4/02). Like his compatriot, Havard Gimse studied with Jiri Hlinka, and once again, following his earlier recordings of Sibelius and Chopin, he shows himself to be an outstanding artist. Again, like Andsnes, there is nothing flashy or self-serving in Gimse's playing; he achieves an ideal balance of natural simplicity and subtle artistic sophistication. This collection concentrates on Norwegian folk dances, and while the scope of the music is somewhat restricted the pervading nostalgic quality is often moving, the faithful simplicity of the settings superbly emphasised by Gimse. In the Folk Dances 17, composed by Grieg in the aftermath of the death of his only child Alexandra, Gimse's beautiful sound with a marvelous cushioned tone at softer dynamics, balances melody and accompaniment perfectly without ever becoming over precious. He manages to get the balance between authentic rusticity and lilting lyricism just right, and strikes to the heart of each piece without artifice or sentimentality. The Folksongs, Op 66, are particularly evocative and melancholy - an impression perhaps heightened by this selection which passes over the few faster-paced numbers - and here, although Gimse's tempos are occasionally daringly expansive, his concentrated repose is compelling. In the most substantial of these pieces, 'I wander deep in thought' (track 30), his tempo is very slow, but the way he builds the intensity is hugely impressive. The highlights, however, are the song transcriptions, which are in effect additional Lyric Pieces. Gimse's projection of tone, judgment of rubalto and control of colour are enthralling, and make me want to hear him in Liszt's Schubert song arrangements. Some may wish Gimse had recorded complete opus numbers, rather than cherry picking, but in this repertoire it doesn't bother me at all. The sound is warm and natural, and this comes highly recommended. Tim Parry, Gramophone July 2002