Grieg dedicated his Nine Songs, Op.18, to his wife Nina, but she actually exerted – as Grieg himself admitted – a great influence on his entire song production. Asked why the art song occupied him so much Grieg once said: ‘Quite simply because, like other mortals, once in my life (to quote Goethe) I had a flash of genius … I fell in love with a young girl with a miraculous voice and an equally miraculous execution. This girl became my wife and has remained my companion in life to the present day. For me she has become – and I dare to say this – the only true interpreter of my songs.’ For a modern day audience, the art of Nina Grieg is sadly not possible to sample – but that of Monica Groop is. On five previous volumes she has given proof of her versatility and her ability to bring Grieg’s songs to life, whether settings of poems in German or in Norwegian, and whether typical examples of the continental Lied or the kind of adaptations of Norwegian folk music that Grieg excelled at. This has also been recognised by the reviewers, for instance in Gramophone, whose critic wrote of Volume 5: ‘Groop knows precisely how far to take her vocal characterization of the many forlorn lovers – and the even more numerous dramatic turns in the weather – and does a nice line in male seducers. Vignoles’ bright, direct and alert playing feels totally idiomatic.’ The preceding volume received similarly high praise in BBC Music Magazine: ‘The distinctive artistry of the Finnish mezzo-soprano is providing an irresistible new take, thrilling to both the shadows and the bright high-latitude light in this music.’ On the present disc, all lyrics are either in Norwegian or Danish (by, among others, H. C. Andersen) and many of them deal with the eternal subject of love. Others are results of the burgeoning national spirit that filled the not yet independent Norway during Grieg’s lifetime, and to which he contributed so much.
Extra material for download