Totally captivating and packing a huge emotional punch, Edvard Grieg by Lise Davidsen and Leif Ove Andsnes is the best way to start 2022
Lise Davidsen, Leif Ove Andsnes (Piano) Decca, out now
This fascinating album shows that the vocally and physically imposing Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen, as she approaches her 35th birthday next month, is not prepared to be typecast as a Wagner soprano.
She is seen by many as a natural inheritor of the mantle of her fellow Norwegian Kirsten Flagstad and the Swede Birgit Nilsson who, between them, dominated Wagner singing for several decades in the mid-20th Century.
But Davidsen returns to her roots here with a first-class 80-minute album of the songs of Edvard Grieg, an appropriate choice for a singer who started out at the Grieg Academy in the composer’s home town of Bergen.
Working together for the first time, Lise Davidsen and Leif Ove Andsnes (above) are totally captivating in these 28 songs
Decca has spared no expense, partnering her with another Norwegian, the formidable concert pianist and Scandinavian music specialist Leif Ove Andsnes, one of the best around.
Working together for the first time, Davidsen and Andsnes are totally captivating in these 28 songs, very well recorded in Norway last September.
Grieg was a populist, totally immersed in his country’s folk music, and a first-class pianist, with a huge catalogue of piano compositions as well as his celebrated piano concerto.
Andsnes plays brilliantly throughout, and provides a secure base for Davidsen to show that, so far at least, her voice has retained its freshness, despite all the heavy-duty stuff she has been singing elsewhere.
Most of this music will be known only to Grieg specialists, but a few pieces will be familiar, such as The Last Spring, a lovely melody, better known in its orchestral version than in its original song guise.
And Hans Christian Andersen’s I Love Only You packs a huge emotional punch in a mere 80 seconds.
If you have never invested in an art-song album before, this could be a good first buy. I can’t imagine a better start to my 2022 listening than this marvellous album.