Grieg: Four Romances, Op. 10; Three Songs from Peer Gynt, Op. 23; Reminiscences from Mountain and Fjord, Op. 44; Six Poems by Holger Drachmann, Op. 49; A Simple Song, EG147

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COMPOSERS: Grieg
LABELS: BIS
ALBUM TITLE: Grieg
WORKS: Four Romances, Op. 10; Three Songs from Peer Gynt, Op. 23; Reminiscences from Mountain and Fjord, Op. 44; Six Poems by Holger Drachmann, Op. 49; A Simple Song, EG147
PERFORMER: Monica Groop (mezzo-soprano); Roger Vignoles (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD-1457
Some 13 years after Groop began her ambitious complete edition of the songs, she remains a likeable exponent, polished and sensitive but free of affectation and over-elaboration. In this fifth disc she’s joined for the second time by

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Roger Vignoles, a distinguished

asset in exploring Grieg’s often beautiful melodies and richly original accompaniments.

However, completeness means recording the rough with the smooth, and this selection isn’t the most rewarding. Indeed, the Op. 10 Four Romances, from Grieg’s twenties, is disappointedly four-square and stolid, although Groop does her best. Nor is her mezzo colouring ideally suited to Solveig’s songs from Peer Gynt, whose musical effect demands crystalline purity, and hardly more so to Peer’s own sardonic serenade.

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Much finer are the settings of Holger Drachmann, Grieg’s rhapsodically prolix poet friend; Reminiscences from Field and Fjord, created on their walking tour through the mountainous Jotunheimen region, mingles female character studies with musings on the landscape. In Six Songs and A Simple Song Grieg infuses the folky, exuberant style with deeper feeling and an airy energy, which Groop and Vignoles capture very persuasively, even if one now notices the occasional off-colour high note. Altogether, an enjoyable if not overwhelming installment in a highly valuable cycle. Michael Scott Rohan