Edvard Grieg's songs and short piano pieces are played from time to time, but this enjoyable Avie release may be the first in which they have been given what might be called a historically informed performance. It's not that pianist Christopher Glynn plays an old instrument: he does not. Instead, the program is based on those that Grieg and his wife, Nina Hagerud, would perform in spaces much like Potton Hall, Suffolk, where the excellent acoustics of this recording were produced. One of those recitals was given for Queen Victoria in 1897. The program here offers a complete song cycle, Haugtussa, Op. 67, together with other songs and small piano pieces. The big Grieg song hit, Jeg elsker Dig (I Love You), Op. 5, is here (sample this as a reference point), but many of the songs are elegant little masterworks that haven't often been performed. The great advantage of this kind of program, and one that would have been obvious to Grieg, is that the links between the songs and the piano pieces, which are evocative little images in the vein of Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words (which Grieg surely knew), are made apparent. The ball is tossed between Glynn and soprano Clare Booth, with each seeming to add to what the other has just expressed. Booth is not the most ravishingly beautiful voice, but she is right for this project, which follows nicely on the pair's previous album of music by Percy Grainger: Grieg inspired the young Grainger. A recommended album in which all the pieces seem to fit together.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Haugtussa, Op. 67|