Gösta NYSTROEM 100 År - 100 Years
This is, I believe, the first mixed collection on CD
of the songs and solo piano music of the Swedish composer, Gösta
The seventeen songs are grouped into Åtta
dikter ur Ångest, Ur Musiken till Stormen, the better
known Sånger vid havet and several isolated songs including
Vårnatt and Det Enda the latter usually heard in
the context of what I regard as Nystroem's chef d'oeuvre, the Sinfonia
Gunvor Nilsson draws on both power and reserve. Her
performance of Det Enda is nothing short of operatic. Whether
you regard her vibrato as an expressive device or a barrier to pleasure
only you can decide. Personally I would have welcomed a greater stability
in the voice. She reminded me of Elisabeth Söderström in her
recording of Sibelius's Luonnotar, the Decca one conducted by
Ashkenazy. There her voice, though still recognisable, resorted to a
wobble I found at odds with the character of the music. This registered
sharply in Det Enda. Nilsson 'acts' her songs, responding, as
far as one can tell given that the words are printed only in Swedish,
to the meaning of what she sings. Her intelligence is never in doubt
nor is her command of dynamic and emotional range. Listen to the protesting
outrage in her voice in Jag hår ett hem vid havet which
evaporates into the motion of the float-drifting seawrack from the Nystroem's
1946 Sinfonia del Mare.
The range of the songs is wide. There is the seasonally
affective sadness of the Nordic depressive in Åtta dikter ur
Ångest. Det Enda is the indelibly memorable song and
motif-anchor from Sinfonia del Mare. The songs from The Tempest
are often flighty - two of the three are Ariel songs. The sea-loneliness
of Sånger vid havet contrasts with the pop/cross-over of
Vårnatt - that Vilja/Lili Marlene soundalike.
Vårnatt would have been a gift to Marni Nixon, Gisela May
and Cleo Laine as a mixer in a Weill music-theatre recital or cabaret
sequence. It has about it a whiff of the honeyed nostalgia of the Vienna
of Jan Kiepura and Maria Jeritza. Irresistible. Two songs from Sånger
vid Havet are specially worthy of mention. Ute i skaren recalls
the Britten setting of This ae Night in his Serenade and
Havets visa is a robust vignette of the extrovert life-embracing
sections of Edvard Munch's 'dance' canvases.
There are two solo piano pieces both extremely well
done by Erik Risberg. The Prelude Pastoral is no blushing recessional.
Virtuosic anger and almost hatred fliskers and flashes through the piece
set amid a suggestion of a pilgrimage through a lichen-hung forest.
The Valse Marine is aristocratic and harmonically far less ambivalent
than the Prelude. It is a companion to the lighter song Vårnatt.
Chopin and perhaps de Falla are the influences in the waltz. I did not
catch any of the oceanic atmosphere impled by the title.
I hope that there is more to be heard of both Gunvor
Nilsson and Erik Risberg. Both know their way around these pieces. Their
interpretations show the utmost sensitivity. Nystroem would have been
proud of them.
Sporting only Swedish texts and background notes this
CD must have been made with only the Swedish market in prospect. That
is a pity but it is no real barrier to the value of the disc.
Things are looking up for Nystroem. Recently (January
2002) Daphne have issued a CD entirely dedicated to his songs review.
Phono-Suecia had Svetlanov conducting the Del Mare with Charlotte Hellekant
(the same soprano as the Daphne disc). I will not be surprised to see
recordings of the unrecorded symphonies (Shakespeariana and Tramontana),
the Violin Concerto and even the opera Herr Arne's Penningar. I
will know that he has 'arrived' when the Sinfonia del Mare is
heard at the New York or Berlin Phils or at the BBC Proms. That
Symphony has the power to astonish and move. Music of that 'speaking'
quality demands to be heard.
This Intim disc is for those enthralled by Nordic song
and by Nystroem's regretful, nostalgic, silvery voice. A new generation
is thrilling to Scandinavian song championed by Anne Sofie von Otter
and Solveig Kringelborn. They should seek out both this very valuable
disc as well as the Hellekant Daphne.