Lyric Pieces
audite 92.555 SACD
release date: September 12, 2007
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The notes for this disc by pianist Hideyo Harada of Grieg's Lyric Pieces describes her performance as "a poetry reading in music...a dramatic arrangement, with subtle shifts and abrupt contrast, with hues, forms, and characters." Fortunately for her, she backs that claim up with a thoroughly convincing and satisfying recital. Harada certainly has the virtuoso technique to accomplish it. Her poise, balance, and articulation are essentially flawless, and her sheer speed is often quite breathtaking. Though her attack can be overwhelming, her touch can also be soft and her tone is always subtle. Also, Harada's arrangement of these 22 pieces excerpted from 10 separate volumes has the subliminal yet palpable narrative to sustain it. Her program's ebb, flow, and swell describe the rise, fall, and triumph of an incredibly intense emotional experience that, whatever it may be, can only be represented in music. Any one piece at random is affecting, several in a row are moving, and the whole disc from start to finish is absolutely cathartic. Audite's super audio sound is as intimate as a whisper.  ( November 19, 2007 )

Fanfare Magazine

Hideyo Harada, a Japanese native who finished her training in Stuttgart, Vienna, and Moscow, plays with a tonal polish and technical élan that emphasizes the prettiness of the music (which is there aplenty), but her readings are not superficial; and she can dig in and reveal grit as the material demands. This is all good, because her playing is very much under the microscope, sonically speaking. To put it simply, this is one of the most beautiful sounding piano recordings I have ever heard.  ( July/August 2008 )

American Record Guide

Japanese born Harada plays 22 of these ever-fresh works, including many favorites. Her performances are attractive, the SACD sound is very good…  ( March/April 2008 )


Edvard Grieg composed a total of 66 lyric pieces for the piano, character pieces in the tradition of Robert Schumann that occasionally remind the listener of Chopin, Brahms and Liszt. Their characteristic Scandinavian flair sets them apart and makes them into much more than playful pieces for pleasure. Memories from Grieg's life, feelings, and emotions play as much a part in the Lyric Pieces as legend, fairy tales and impressions from nature.

These pieces were extremely popular in Grieg's day, and some reactions were accordingly tinged with envy. Several colleagues were quick to call him "a master of musical miniatures," and Debussy went so far as to call the pieces, "pink bonbons, full of snow."

Fortunately, in the last fifteen years, much has taken place to restore Grieg's reputation. Both Gerhard Oppitz (RCA, 1993) and Steen-Nøkleberg (Naxos, 1995) have recorded the Lyric Pieces in their entirety, and future recordings will be measured against the technique and the stature of these two artists. Since Emil Gilels recorded his legendary album of piano music in 1974 (DG), there had been no passionate performance of Grieg's oeuvre. This situation has since been remedied by two Grieg recitals, Mikhail Pletnev (DG, 2000) und Leif Ove Andsnes (EMI, 2002).

Now for a great and pleasant surprise: On the 100th anniversary of Grieg's death, the Japanese pianist Hideyo Harada has produced a new recording of the Lyric Pieces (Audite, 2007), which will set fresh standards despite the excellent recordings that are already available. Harada intuits the pieces in their inner depth, and balances melancholy and elegance masterfully. For this reason, her interpretations are without the slightest artifice, while at the same time carefully rendering even the most subtle detail. The tonal quality of Grieg's pieces, luminous and atmospherically dense, are extremely well suited to Harada's nuanced interpretation. From delicate to rustic, from pure and innocent to portentous and pathetic – the ever-new colors that Harada crafts bewitch. Many of the lyric pieces collected on this CD have never been recorded better, for instance the delicate ethereal hymn "To Spring" (Op. 43, No. 6) or the elegiac and paced "Melody" (Op. 47, No. 3). Harada's light and airy leggiero turns pieces like "Little Bird" (Op. 43, No. 4), "Butterfly" (Op. 43, No. 1), and "Brooklet" (Op. 62, No. 4) into silvery magic. Here, nature is more alive and more vibrant than in the recordings by Gilels, Pletnev or Andsnes.

Harada not only performs famous works, but also unearths some half-forgotten treasures by Grieg. The freshly accented and beguiling temperament in "Valse-Impromptu" (Op. 47, No. 1) and "Sylphe" (Op. 62, No. 1) astonish the listener. In "Evening in the Mountains" (Op. 68, No. 4), Harada's musical vision spans a whole panorama in a virtually unparalleled performance. Lyric Pieces is a great contribution to the Grieg year, a wonderful CD that leaves nothing to be desired. There is only one problem: One can become addicted to Harada's Grieg.  ( October 28, 2007 )

Recommended by the editor
Awarded the highest rating (five stars)

When the music lover encountersthis bright bouquet of pieces, poetically interpreted by Hideyo Harada, then he realizes at once that this pianist has a deep affinity to the magical, romantic, and colorful world of the Norwegian composer. The first few bars of each individual piece immediately establishes its character; these numerous short pieces are then woven together into a grandiose musical vista. There is nostalgia here, the glitter of water and of crystal, and a tenderness mixed with humor. Not only does Hideyo Harada have full command of Edvard Grieg's idiom, she is also a pianist of outstanding artistry and musical imagination. This CD contains one third of the "Lyric Pieces." We are eagerly awaiting the remainder …  ( October 2007 )

This Grieg CD was awarded the "Supersonic Award" by the music magazine Pizzicato.

Grieg's Lyric Pieces lend themselves to a wide variety of approaches, from the nervous energy and disquiet of the composer's own playing (faintly preserved on ancient acoustic discs) to the introspective delicacy of Gieseking and Gilels. Pianist Hideyo Harada goes her own way as she follows carefully mapped-out interpretive itineraries. In the A minor Melody Op. 47 No. 3, she opts for broad pacing in the outer sections, where she coaxes out inner voices in long arcs. Perhaps Erotik (Op. 43 No. 5) lingers too much when it ought to move along, yet the focus and intensity with which the central climax builds cannot be denied.

The famous Butterfly Op. 43 No. 1 usually flutters with the wind. Here, however, it's choreographed with painstaking refinement, as are the B minor Op. 62 No. 4 Brooklet's trickling patterns. Similar observations apply to the dynamic gradations in Vanished Days (Op. 57 No. 1) as well as to the Op. 54 No. 5 Scherzo's amazingly dead-of-center scales and runs. It's also a relief to hear Wedding Day at Troldhaugen so elegantly shaped and articulated (many pianists simply pound it to death); ditto the March of the Trolls.

To be sure, Harada doesn't project Grieg's melodies with the natural ebb and flow or disarming simplicity marking Antonio Pompa-Baldi's interpretations on Centaur. You might say that Harada relates to Pompa-Baldi in Grieg's Lyric Pieces as Michelangeli does to Rubinstein in Chopin's Mazurkas: not that there's anything wrong with that! In other words, Harada displays a high level of artistry throughout the 22 selections that make up this thoughtfully programmed, beautifully recorded, and unusually distinctive Grieg recital.  ( February 11, 2008 )

Highest Rating
Artistic Quality: 10 Points
Sound Quality: 10 Points
Welt am Sonntag
The pianist Hideyo Harada has an extremely nuanced approach to the "Lyric Pieces." She highlights interesting phrases with subtle variations in tone, and her rendition is both meditative and modern - modern in the sense that she liberates Grieg's music from the realm of the tame bourgeoisie. Her performance opens up a world of infinitely differentiated and finely wrought music.  ( November 25, 2007 )

Piano News

There have been many recordings in honor of the one-hundredth anniversary of Grieg's death, but this one is truly outstanding. The booklet that comes with the CD describes this performance of the "Lyric Pieces" as a "novella for the ear." This is indeed the case: This highly varied and nuanced selection of one third of the entire "Lyric Pieces" is not performed in chronological order, but instead organized into a dramatic whole that exhibits the full scope of Grieg's musical expression. The Japanese pianist Hideyo Harada expertly underlines not only the character of each individual piece, but also the tensions within the pieces themselves, as for instance in "Melody" (op. 47) or in "Homesickness" (op. 57). Harada shuns both exaggeration and artifice; her natural tone is perfectly matched to Grieg's Nordic timbre. When Harada departs from high romanticism and instead uncovers elements of French Impressionism, as in the onomatopoetic miniatures "Little Bird" (op. 43) or "Butterfly" (op. 43), then this is a conscious artistic decision: Harada wishes to present as many of Grieg's innumerable facets as possible, and on this CD, even the march "Wedding Day at Troldhaugen" (op. 65), which has performed, if anything, too often, sounds fresh and authentic. The CD will be compared with great historic Grieg recordings (Leif Ove Andsnes), but Hideyo Harada is an excellent pianist, who does not need to fear comparison with anyone. After this recording, we are all awaiting her next performance with great anticipation.  ( January 2008 )

Kölner Stadtanzeiger

Of course, a musician does not have to be Norwegian in order to properly interpret Grieg in all of his variety and scope. This is proven by the Japanese pianist Hideyo Harada, who performs several of Grieg's 66 lyric pieces, a selection which of course includes popular highlights like "Wedding Day at Troldhaugen". This pianist has great power, resilience, and sensitivity to style at her command. Romanticism naturally receives its due, and Harada is capable of capricious sentimentality. However, in pieces where one might expect it, she scrupulously avoids such tendencies, for instance in "Little Bird" or in "Butterfly." Here, Harada opts instead for the glass-like transparency of French Impressionism, thus underscoring Grieg's modernity and internationality.  ( September 12, 2007 )

Saarländischer Rundfunk

Edvard Grieg died one hundred years ago on Sept. 4, and thus I have a few words to say about Grieg's piano music in the anniversary year. There is a new CD of Lyric Pieces by Edvard Grieg, recorded for the label "Audite" by the prize-winning Japanese pianist Hideyo Harada. The artist has an excellent feeling for this music, which she approaches very personally. Hideyo Harada captures the lyric atmosphere of Grieg's music precisely; she does not rush, she does not over-interpret, and the individual tone of each piece is given its proper proportion and weight. Most important, and most to my satisfaction, Hideyo Harada respects the private atmosphere that these pieces exude. She performs the music as an intimate dialog and not on the grand stage, and she has mastered the Romantic idiom. Let us listen to some of this CD until the end of the program. I would like to say good-bye to you and wish you a good Sunday, and now here is music by Edvard Grieg with the Japanese pianist Hideyo Harada.  ( CD news, October 21, 2007 )

Rondo Magazin

CD Tip: The Japanese pianist Hideyo Harada shows great sensibility for tonal universe of Edvard Grieg in her recording of the Lyric Pieces, which has just been produced by the label Audite.  ( November 1, 2007 )

Fono Forum


From the very first measure, the listener is greeted by a full, colorful, open sonority, in the normal CD version as well. In the Audite Grieg recital, Hideyo Harada – who received her pianistic training in Stuttgart, Vienna, and Moscow – has made a congenial selection of 22 of the 66 “Lyric Pieces” by the Norwegian composer, and her playing makes an excellent case for them. Her performance is characterized by freedom, flexibility, and a nice use of dynamics. ( June 2008 )


With her ‘singing’ attack, the atmospheric aspect takes precedence: the ‘Lyric Pieces’ are presented here as a thoughtfully weighed sequence of melodic mood pictures.

RBB Kulturradio

The listener is taken on a journey from sunrise to the approach of night with birdsong, wandering trolls, and yearning sonorities.

RBB Kulturradio chose this recording as its “CD of the week”.
NDR Kultur

A Successful Compilation

The soloist has a full command of the energized, forceful dramaturgy of this eloquently picturesque music, with its marching trolls and tender, inward tonalities.


This new CD represents a genuine discovery – not for its repertoire, but instead for the interpretation it offers. The ‘Lyric Pieces’ of the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg require flair and stylistic confidence if the individual qualities of these character pieces are to become perceptible. Audible in the present recording is the intensity and meticulous care with which this pianist has studied the individual movements. Hideyo Harada is an interpreter of great sensibility, capable of eliciting sonorities of sheer beauty from the piano. Her rich palette of tone colors encompasses the finest nuances, and the same is true of her dynamic gradations and handling of the art of phrasing. With modesty, this distinguished artist, equipped with such a gift for poetry, places herself at the service of the music, producing a splendid and convincing interpretation of the “Lyric Pieces.” One criticism only: this CD contains only a selection. How interesting it would be to hear this work performed in its totality by this sensitive artist. Harada’s shaping of Grieg’s miniatures is utterly transparent and inspired. Harada tends toward relaxed tempi, allowing the music to breathe and flow. In these 22 miniatures (as the accompanying booklet informs us), she sought to distill the romantic spirit Grieg inherited from Mendelssohn and Schumann. She has achieved her aim: powerful emotions and the most delicate impressions enter into an ideal alliance. ( March 2008 )

Scherzo, a Spanish music magazine