BBC Music Magazine: outstanding; Music Web International: outstanding.
On this the fifth disc of Grieg’s songs, Monica Groop performs songs written between 1864-1889. The earliest of these, Four Romances (Op. 10), betray very little of the 21-year old composer’s growing interest in the music of his native country, an interest which was spurred by his meetings with the great violin virtuoso Ole Bull during this time. But with the three Peer Gynt Songs, and perhaps even more so with the following collaborations with the poet Holger Drachmann, the Norwegian tendencies become more obvious. The songs from Peer Gynt were the first individual pieces of the work to be published separately – long before the two orchestral suites were assembled.
The Op. 44 songs were the results of a walking tour of the Norwegian mountains made by Grieg and Drachmann in 1886, while the Op. 49 settings of Drachmann poems were completed some years later. While uneven in quality, this collection contains a couple of Grieg’s finest songs, such as Tell Me Now, Did You See the Lad (No. 1), and Kind Greetings, Fair Ladies (No. 3).
Monica Groop has shown a deep sympathy for this repertoire, as recognised by the BBC Music Magazine’s critic at the release of the previous volume: ‘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.’ As on that disc, Roger Vignoles is Groop's congenial partner in these often less than familiar scores.
Some press voices:
"Think fireside warmth and convivial gatherings and you'll be close to the spirit of these songs, exquisitely delivered by Monica Groop and Roger Vignoles" Classical fm 02/2006
“Groop and Vignoles are masters of what they have chosen to survey. … 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. Sound and balance are ideal…” Gramophone 06/2006