This is a recital of Swedish songs by Composers all writing in the 1980's and 90s and before you move on to another review let me say immediately that this a very remarkable recital by a remarkable singer.
One thing that I always need and look for in a professional
singer in whose company I will spend an hour or so are;
a). a quality voice I want to hear and to enjoy
b) a singer with the ability to colour the text.
c). a care for the words and a good diction,
d) a singer who is technically on top of what the composer's require,
e) a singer who is emotionally ready to sing the chosen repertoire.
Now you may chose others in addition to these or none
of them for that matter, but for this reviewer Olle Persson succeeds
in all of these requirements, so necessary for these particular songs.
The very helpful booklet notes by Bengt Johnsson begin " The early years of the 20th Century were a flourishing period of lied in Sweden…. But during the second half of the century, by contrast the lied languished and one is tempted to say that the genre was almost on the verge of extinction. Presented on this CD are works for by younger Swedish composers…[who show] a newly aroused interest in the art of the lied, triggered perhaps by post-modernist emancipation." He adds, and in the light of my comment about the performances this is important, "renewal depends on the existence of artists who are ready to test new forms, both in a purely musical sense and in terms of performance". This is the significance of this new release - original and thought provoking compositions, brilliantly presented to the highest possible standards.
Let me present the composers; Jonas Forssell. He is a player of all woodwind instruments with a strong interest in Jazz and in the theatre. Kjeel Perder studied with, amongst others, Brian Ferneyhough and John Lambert and has written music in every genre. Hans Gefors studied in Denmark with Per Norgard. He is professor of music at Malmo University.
These composers are therefore going to create a wide variety of styles and delivery on this CD and it is that which Olle Persson rises to. For example in the opening song Spegelen' [The Mirror] by Forssell we are in a cabaret a la Kurt Weill with Persson putting on various voices, over a waltz-type accompaniment, old men are arguing in a heated conversation. The second song 'Kara jord' [Dear Earth] by Gefors, is a gentle song, Persson is double tracked to create a canon at the end of phrases. This piece is rather folksy or mediaeval using the 14th Century Landini cadence. The next song is a Swedish memorial to Yeats', Easter 1968 by Forssell, with words by his father Lars, Persson delivers in a strong aggressive baritone accompanied by one note in the bass of a prepared piano, making an unpitched very percussive drum noise. The vocal style is a mixture of some pitches, Sprechtstimme, parlando and some shouts. It would be interesting to see the score. This is the first of a cycle, or as the CD translates, suite, of three songs in which the piano is prepared a la John Cage. The middle song, 'Alskandes klagen' [Lovers Lament] finds Persson using falsetto, and groans to portray the erotic text. Forssell returns to a light style in four songs entitled 'Ur Prinsessan'. These also have parts for percussion, for instance the third one for drum, Bells and solo violin played by Bernt Lysell. These songs tend to favour triple time and a cabaret style. Persson here has to use his very lowest register at times.
The songs by Perder set seven of his own very erotic poems, these have titles such as Clarinetto, Viola, Trombone, this latter begins with the text " Slow breaths sustained glissandi we breathe more heavily but together…"
I could go on, because most of the songs seem to require a different vocal technique and many original ideas. But it would be to deny you a real sense of discovery. As for the poets there is Lors Forsall who is still writing, Elmer Diktonius who died in 1961, Par Lagerkvist died in 1974 and Gunnar Bjorling who also died in 1961. They are the most important poets of their generation. Their verse is as remarkable and imaginative as the music and wonderfully and vividly translated by Roger Tanner.
I cannot speak too highly of the whole enterprise. Don't let this be a CD that slips you by.
Jonas Forssell (b. 1957):
1. Spegelen /Lars Forssell * [2.57]
Hans Gefors (b. 1952):
2. Kära Jord /Elmer Diktonius ** [2.08]
Jonas Forssell: Ur "Tolv variationer till minne av W.B. Yeats" /Lars
3. 1. Påsk 1968 [1.58]
4. 2. Älskandes klagan [3.32]
5. 3. Tiden och en flicka [5.37]
Hans Gefors: "Sånger om glädje /Pär Lagerkvist **
6. 1. Var är den djupa glädje [3.06]
7. 2. Det Šr vackrast när det skymmer [2.40]
8. 3. Solig stig [1.33]
9. Vaggvisa till Maria /Lars Forssell ** [1.54]
10. Var jag fullkomlig /Gunnar Björling ** [2.52]
11. Med en fågel på sitt huvud /Anders Hasselgren * [1.31]
Jonas Forssell: Ur "Prinsessan och Månen" /H.C. Morgenstern
* 12. Pärlhönan /Sv. tolkn. L.G Hellström [0.27]
13. Klocktonen/Sv. tolkn. L.G. Hellström [1.47]
14. Änglarna /Sv. tolkn. Lars Forssell [1.32]
15. Molnlammet /Sv. tolkn. L.G. Helström [3.20]
Kjell Perder (b. 1954): "Canto Erotico" /Kjell Perder **
16. 1. Clarinetto [5.12]
17. 2. Campane tubolari [3.07]
18. 3. Viola [3.27]
19. 4. Corno inglese [3.15]
20. 5. Violincello [1.41]
21. 6. Trombone [2.08]
22. 7. Celesta [2.43]