I wonder whose concept this disc represents. It works
very well. Nilsson and Flagstad are two primarily Wagnerian sopranos
and each gives thes songs a very grown-up heft and confidence.
Nilsson is naturally in operatic voice and this is
clearest in the high dramatics of Var det en drom and Höstkvåll.
The latter is a subtle song with linkages, in the harp figuration, to
The Bard and Luonnotar. The songs of Richard Strauss are
brought to mind by the lovingly treated Flickan which is a truly
lovely song. These Sibelius songs are alive with imaginative orchestral
detailing. Most of them have a more intimate mien which Nilsson is far
more in sympathy with than her operatic credentials might give you cause
Grieg's En svane shows the way and it is a way
which we might already know if we have Delius's orchestral songs (Unicorn
Fenby Edition and the Dinemec collection). Fra Monte Pincio sounds
not a million miles from the sentimental Viennese songs associated with
the Strausses. It would be fascinating to hear Sumi Jo tackle this.
The endearing sentimentality of Varen (Last Spring) is
well enough known and Nilsson demonstrates her phenomenal ability to
loft and hold a high note.
The Rangström songs are psychologically complex
and match the sophistication with music that is dramatic, strong on
rhetoric and grandeur. So strong is the composer's inclination in this
direction that lighter moments suffer from suffocation as in the En
Gammal dansrytm which leans towards the waltz rather like Monte
The informative notes are by Robert Layton - presumably
from the original LP issues. A pity about the odd typo which for example
wrongly show the Divertimento Elegiaco as Divertimento Elegaico
and which in one case render the name of the poet Fröding
Flagstad took up the cudgels with more modern orchestral
sound in the mid-1960s. At this stage in her career while still the
equal (in fact the superior) of Eggen's Ære det evige ... her
voice blurs words far more than the more word-sensitive Nilsson. While
Grieg, Sibelius and Rangström are known if not always for their
songs, Alnæs, Eggen and Lie are unknown. Lighter serenade-like
songs such as Nu brister and Vårlængsler are
lighter on the palate (although the latter has its dramatic dimensions)
and are aided by orchestral parts that have learnt something from Grieg's
orchestral songs. The treasurable Februarmorgen ved Golfen with
its high whisper of violins and harp silverpoints seems to sing of a
seascape with the stilly ocean unbroken by a breeze.
Lastly there are two songs, each a second or two short
of five minutes, by Lie. Nykelen and Skinnvengbrev have
an epic attitude. Interesting that, especially in the latter, Flagstad
sounds very similar to Ferrier. Her attack is Nykelen is phenomenal.
Sorry folks but no texts provided. Just thank your
stars that these recordings are available again and at super bargain
price. I do wish people wouldn't be so bleatngly censorious about such
omissions. Give me the music every time - and these voices captured
in their prime do sound glorious. Of course I would want the
words and translations but without them I am well able to enjoy these
songs as perfect miniature musical experiences.