Grieg wrote more than 180 songs, of which only a handful, exasperatingly, remain in the repertory. Language is, of course, the source of both their greatness and their neglect. Grieg's aim was to invest the Norwegian art song with the status - national, as well as aesthetic - of the German lied. That he succeeded is borne out by every track of this beautifully programmed disc featuring Swedish mezzo Katarina Karnéus and pianist Julius Drake. We get to hear old favourites like A Swan and I Love You, in the context of the works from which they were subsequently wrenched, along with Haugtussa (The Mountain Girl), a shattering cycle. Karnéus's performances are thrillingly awash with grand passions and high voltage drama. Drake is faultless.
CD: Grieg: Songs
Tim Ashley is a Guardian classical and opera critic, though he's also keen on literature and philosophy so you might sometimes find him cross-referencing all three. His work has also appeared in Literary Review and Opera magazine and he is author of a biography of Richard Strauss