Following their acclaimed collaboration in Percy Grainger’s Folk Music, soprano Claire Booth and pianist Christopher Glynn turn to the Lyric Music of Edvard Grieg, an apt sequel as the elder composer befriended Grainger- who idolized the Norwegian’s folkloric idiom- immediately on their first encounter in London in 1906. Interspersing intimate vocal miniatures with lyrical solo piano pieces, Claire and Christopher mirror many of the programmes that Grieg and his wife Nina performed on their many recital tours together. Each of the works on Lyric Music tells a story as does the album as a whole ranging in mood from bright, youthful innocence to shades of autumnal twilight. Sung in the original Norwegian, Claire’s and Christopher’s performances are as evocative as Norway’s varied landscape.
The placing of the cycle Haugtussa in the middle of the programme is inspired. Booth here goes all out, capturing the yearnings and frustrations of the shepherd girl with a truly contemporary lack of inhibition. Such a performance and balance helps to push the still undervalued dramatic status of Haugtussa across any language barrier – and Booth also enjoys detail like the spiky sounds in the comic, and often cheeky, names of the girl’s goats in ‘The Kid’s Dance’.
This new recital, strongly recommended, contributes greatly to the catalogues as a kind of heightened guide both to Grieg’s song-writing and the still unsuspected range of his Lyric Pieces.