Lise Davidsen and Leif Ove Andsnes, two Norwegian artists who have risen to the top of the classical music world, have collaborated for the first time on a new album of Edvard Grieg songs to be released on Decca Classics on 7 January. The album will be followed by a five-city European recital tour, providing listeners and audiences the opportunity to experience Norway’s leading classical artists performing the songs of their country’s greatest composer

Lise Davidsen has been hailed by The New York Times as the soprano with a “one-in-a-million voice”. Since winning Plácido Domingo’s Operalia and Queen Sonja competitions in 2015, she has starred in leading roles at the world’s greatest opera houses and has released two UK Classical Number 1 albums on Decca Classics. Davidsen teams up with her compatriot Leif Ove Andsnes, the pianist praised by The Wall Street Journal as “one of the most gifted musicians of his generation.”  

Recording in the Norwegian town of Bodø in the Arctic Circle, Davidsen and Andsnes immersed themselves in music that is central to their country’s musical identity. ‘Everyone in Norway knows this music,’ Davidsen says. ‘I am very aware of the conventions of how it “should” be done and by whom. This project was about listening to the music on our own terms, trying to find our Grieg sound.’ 

Haugtussa, Grieg’s only song cycle, forms the centrepiece of the album. The text is from Arne Garborg’s 1895 verse Novella Haugtussa, written in the regional dialect of “Nynorsk” as a nationalist rebuttal to Danish-derived Norwegian language. Grieg’s setting infuses the form of the Romantic narrative song cycle with the distinctive character of his homeland. In Six Songs, the influence of Norwegian folk melodies is clearly heard. The German-language Five Songs demonstrates Grieg’s mastery of a more continental approach to Lied as well as his expressive range: ‘That you can have “Zur Rosenzeit” and “Lauf der Welt” in the same opus feels very human to me,’ says Davidsen; ‘I love the way Grieg can take you immediately from something profound to something apparently so light.’ 

Davidsen and Andsnes will tour repertoire from their Grieg album along with songs by Strauss and Wagner in January 2022.  

6 January: Berlin (Staatsoper Unter den Linden) 

8 January: Madrid (Teatro Real) 

9 January: Munich (Bayerische Staatsoper) 

11 January: Vienna (Wiener Konzerthaus) 

13 January: London (Barbican) 

Davidsen has been celebrated by Queen Sonja of Norway, who attended her Metropolitan Opera debut in The Queen of Spades in 2019. Davidsen comes off the back of critically-acclaimed performances as Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the Met, with The New York Times writing: “Lise Davidsen, whose voice is luminous when soft and startingly big at full cry”.