My ever-evolving reference system has currently morphed into a piano-reproducing machine, so the timing of Eventyr, a solo piano recording from 2L Recordings, is fortuitous. “Eventyr” is a Norwegian word “that conjures up fairy tales, stories of adventure and stories of fantasy.” That describes the playful and dynamic approach employed by pianist Christian Grovlen for these four pieces from composers Edvard Grieg, Alf Hurum, Christian Sinding and Geirr Tveitt.
It’s rather easy to pull words like “playful” from the mind and fingers of Christian Grovlen since he is such an expressive performer and interpreter. While the overall tone, complex and always shifting, is closer to Ingmar Bergman than Peter Jackson, Eventyr is a blast because of the energy, the underlying fortitude of the pianist in telling epic tales of things that supposedly happened long ago. These are tone poems, delivered with fire and steel and possibly some sort of wizardry.
The system in question revolves around the Qln Prestige One two-way bookshelf monitors, coincidentally from neighboring Sweden, which are extraordinary when it comes to digging deep into a recording and retrieving almost everything you can possibly imagine, all with a warm and clear voice. Combine that with the way Morten Lindberg of 2L Recordings captures these performances, a single instrument in a very large Norwegian church, and it’s like taking a magnifying glass to Grovlen’s piano and poring over every inch of it.
This is a new and thrilling dimension to me, these recent discussions of how certain recordings are perfectly matched to certain combinations in my system. You’re exposed to Christian Grovlen and how he approaches the themes of grief in Grieg’s work, Ballade, and how the melancholy can be supplanted with that invincible Viking spirit that much of this music celebrates. The other three composers are less known, especially outside of Norway, but I was surprised by other European influences, especially that of Debussy, in each work.
While I can’t quite tell you that you need a pair of Qln Prestige Ones to enjoy this exciting new piano recording from Christian Grovlen, I can tell you that if you’ve optimized your system for a grand piano–and I know some of you who have–Eventyr is spellbinding.