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Hyperion Records

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Fairies of the Meadow (1850) by Nils Blommer (1816-1853)
Copyright Nationalmuseum, Stockholm / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67670
Recording details: December 2007
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: July 2008
Total duration: 27 minutes 54 seconds

'In the mezzo-soprano of Katarina Karnéus, Hautgussa becomes a darkly erotic tale … Julius Drake provides the watery undercurrents for Karnéus's eloquent 'En svane' and 'Med en vandlilje'. Their partnership is vividly alive … with the timbre of Karnéus's mezzo particularly moving in the grief-stricken dying falls of Goethe's 'Zur Rosenzeit'' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Swedish mezzo Katarina Karnéus is as eloquent and impassioned an advocate of Grieg as she was of Sibelius in her first recital for Hyperion. Her flavoursome voice can soar and flare thrillingly … Karnéus is a singer of natural warmth and spontaneity who possesses what Grieg called the gift of 'reading between the lines' and 'interpreting a half-told tale' … a glorious disc' (The Daily Telegraph)

'It is Karnéus's ability to characterize a song quite as much as the beauty of her singing that makes this CD so rewarding' (International Record Review)

'Karnéus is a near-ideal interpreter, with her velvety mezzo and bright communicative skills. Some favourites are here—'A swan', 'With a waterlily', 'The way of the world' and 'I love you'—and the quality of the songs is consistently high. A lovely disc' (The Sunday Times)

'This is a strong collection of some of Grieg’s best songs, clearly sung with love and a strong emotional commitment … Julius Drake … plays with imagination, rhythmic vitality, and great sensitivity' (Fanfare, USA)

'The Mountain Maid is indeed one of the finest song cycles by any composer' (Liverpool Daily Post)

'Karnéus' rich timbre, full-bodied sound, and her dramatic flair, her emotional involvement born of a clear understanding of every word she sings … we simply need to get to know this music better, and thanks to Karnéus' generously filled recital, we now have another first-rate avenue to help us get there. Highly recommended!' (ClassicsToday.com)

Haugtussa 'The mountain maid', Op 67
composer
author of text
eponymous verse-novel published 1895

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Arne Garborg’s verse-novel Haugtussa (‘The mountain maid’; literally ‘A girl of the hill-spirits’) was published in 1895. Comprising no fewer than seventy-one individual verses, it created a deep impression on Grieg, who had first encountered Garborg’s writing a few years earlier. No sooner had Grieg read the book than he wrote to his friend Julius Röntgen about the possibility of setting parts of it: ‘I have been deep in a highly remarkable poem … Haugtussa. It is a quite brilliant book, where the music is really already composed. One just needs to write it down.’ This marriage of poetry and music is one of the miracles of the nineteenth-century song-cycle genre. Many regard Haugtussa as Grieg’s masterpiece, a claim which it is hard to resist. It is certainly one of the greatest song-cycles for the female voice ever written, revealing the composer at the very height of his powers. But Grieg’s initial intention to set parts of it went through several refining processes before he finally settled on the eight verses that make up his Op 67. This work is in many ways the culmination of various strands in Grieg’s earlier song-writing, from the relative innocence of the Op 5 set to, for example, the ‘knowing’ character of the German songs Op 48, especially Lauf der Welt. Although there is great originality in such works as the Piano Concerto, and a breadth of conception in pieces like the G minor String Quartet, Grieg’s sheer range as a song-writer—from the shortest settings, folk-like and immediate, to the depth of distinctive inspiration that runs through every bar of Haugtussa—places him without question among the finest masters of the genre.

from notes by Robert Matthew-Walker © 2008

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