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Näckens Polska: piano music by Ernst JOSEPHSON and Jakob Adolf HÄGG
Ernst JOSEPHSON (1851-1906): Näckens polska; Folkvisa; Melodistycke; Blåsten; Fjorton år; Ingeborgs klagan; Visa; Saga; Serenad; Vaggvisa; Aldrig en iris; Pianostycke; Lilla blomma do år; Pianostycke; EcortenseFjärran han dröjer; Näktergals klagan; Barcarole; Mazurka; Segersång; Visa; Kärlekssång; Piano stycke (2); Skogslåt; Barnlek; Pianosång; Pianstcke; Morgonstiernan
Jakob Adolf HÄGG (1850-1928): Sång utan ord; Vaggvisa; Liten visa; Gitarren; Grazioso; Binda kransar; Nordisk sång; Humoresk; Höstsång; Granen; Gullvivan; Scherzino; Vals; Gotlandspolska
Rolf Lindblom (piano)
rec. 14-15 Aug 1990, studio 3, Swedish Radio, Stockholm
PROPRIUS PRCD 9053 [63.21]


These well behaved piano stool miniatures have no pretensions to do anything other than to delight and not unduly to stir deeper emotional waters. Their compass is set by Chopin, Schumann and Macdowell. The Swedish countryside, its strands and waters are the inspiration. Convention is not challenged neither would rebellion have crossed the minds of these two composers. Although two composers are represented I detected hardly any difference in the language. Josephson is if anything the more classically inclined of the two with a propensity for charm drawn from the piano sonatas of Mozart and Haydn. Then again in Humoresk (tr. 23) he veers towards the Chopin waltzes. Hägg is more disposed to reach towards the psychological subtleties and capture elusive moods. I would not exactly call his music impressionistic but certainly it is closer to that style than to the classical era's constraints of poise and emotion.

The thirteen Josephson pieces (distinguished by a bullet point against each title in the listing on the back of the booklet) seem to be the raison d'être for the disc which is linked to a film 'Jag skall bli Sveriges Rembrandt'. The Hägg pieces have been added because of their mood-kinship and because so far as I can make out from the notes (I am not a Swedish speaker), the two composers were friends.

The notes are only in Swedish and before we begin complaining the Proprius discs do not seem to be marketed terribly energetically outside Sweden. There are other languages apart from the all-conquering English in its various moods, social subsets (texting!) and dialects. I see no reason why the Swedish should not choose to prepare discs for their own market in the confidence of their own culture. If we choose to pass them by now that we have easy internet access to them then that is our loss. Certainly if you have chased down all those Macdowell/Barbagallo discs on Naxos American Classics you will want this as well. This should also be a natural for you if you liked the two Australian collections by such luminaries as Roy Agnew, Lindley Evans, Frank Hutchens, Alfred and Mirrie Hill and Miriam Hyde (Tamara Anna Cislowska, piano, Artworks AW005 and AW023).

Innocently gentle and sometimes genteel piano genre pieces from Sweden's pre-Great War world.

Rob Barnett


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