For her debut Decca song recital, the Norwegian soprano has chosen music by her famous compatriot, Edvard Grieg. Perhaps because of the language barrier, these fine songs are still relatively rare on disc, but Davidsen’s high-profile accounts may change all that. To find out what is so special about these vocal gems, Clive Paget caught up with her over Zoom to discuss the challenges of tackling Norwegian repertoire and how she literally ambushed Leif Ove Andsnes to get him onboard for the project.

Lise Davidsen. Photo James Hole / Decca Records

As a Norwegian, did you grow up with Grieg’s songs?

The thing is, I didn’t grow up with classical music at all. I probably heard some, either in school or on the radio, but as I started learning them – because it’s always easier to sing classical music in your own language – they started coming to me quite quickly.

I studied at the Grieg Academy in Bergen where there was a lot of Grieg. I did [the song cycle Haugtussa, or The Mountain Maid] with my professor, who was a Grieg...