Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Marken er mejet - Elisabeth Meyer-Topsøe sings Danish Songs
Askel AGERBY (1889-1942)

Jeg er havren. Jeg har bjælder på (1916)

Marken er mejet, og høet er høstet
Det var en Lørdag aften
I skovens dybe
Otto MORTENSEN (1907-1986)

Septembers Himmel er så blå (1949)

Det lysner over agres felt (1922)
J P E HARTMANN (1805-1890)

I sne star urt busk I skjul (1866)
Oluf RING (1884-1936)

Sig nærmer tiden (1922)
Danmark, nu blunder den lyse nat
Thorvald AAGAARD (1877-1937)

Spurven sidder stum bag kvist (1915)
Sneflokke kommer vrimlende (1916)
Jeg ser de bøgelyse øer (1931)
Thomas LAUB (1852-1927)

Det er hvidt herude (1914)
I skyggen vi vanke (1915)
Stille, hjerte, sol går ned (1915)
Poul SCHIERBECK (1888-1949)

Det er I dag et vejr et solskinsvejr (1952)
Otto MORTENSEN (1907-1986)

Den grønne søde vår (1951)
Du danske sommer, jeg elsker dig (1932)
Hun er sød, hun er blød (1937)

Se, det summer af sol over engen (1916)
Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)

Nu er dagen fuld af sang (1915)
Jeg bærer med smil min byrde (1915)
Som en rejselysten flåde (1921)
Lær mig, nattens stjerne (1925)
Underlige aftenlufte (1915)
Alfred TOFT

Ole sad på en knold og sang (1911)
Johan Christian GEBAUER (1808-1884)

Hist, hvor vejen slår en bugt (1846)
J A P SCHULTZ (1747-1800)

Nys fyldte skøn Sired sit attende år (1790)
J P E HARTMANN (1805-1890)

Flyv, fugl! Flyv over Furseøens vove (1938)
Niels W GADE (1817-1890)

På Sjølunds fagre sletter (1838)
C E F WEYSE (1774-1842)

Natten er så stille (1840)
Elisabeth Meyer-Topsøe (soprano)
Per Salo (piano)
Recorded at Frederiksdal Castle, Lolland, April 2003-10-23

A number of these songs are the kind of thing that Aksel Schiøtz used to sing with such aplomb and conviction. His voice was to the manner born when it came to lyricism and sensitivity and for a moment I thought that Elisabeth Meyer-Topsøes might prove too rich a soprano to do justice to these essentially miniature settings.

The programme is divided into seasons and themes Love and Longing occupies one section as does The Country and its history. Many are simple and reflective and none, including the Nielsen settings, stretch the boundaries too far. The songs range in date from the 1790s to about 1950, which is from J.A.P. Schultz to Otto Mortensen, and often set the superior lyrics of leading poets such as Andersen, Oehlenschläger and Jensen. But many took simpler and less crafted lyrics, of which there are a number here, and a fair few of the composers are hardly household names either. So there is real democracy at work in the selection. The songs mirror contemporary themes of course whether in terms of the revival of folk music or in increased patriotism in the light of the threats to Danish political and geographic independence. Later still Nielsen and Laub tended to strip away the late Romantic barnacles and things became increasingly strophic.

We all know what we do with the second verse of an English folk song sing it louder than the first but what does one do with Danish folk songs? Pretty much the same it seems. These are lyrical generous hearted settings without huge demands except on the apt sustaining of mood and contrast, feeling and intimacy, pacing and sense of line. Meyer-Topsøes voice is a strong instrument but it does well by the songs, though it would be a heroic undertaking to listen to the disc all the way through without feeling a certain degree of torpor (Ive tried). One can enjoy the bell chimes of Jeg er havren. Jeg har bjælder på and the simplicity of Septembers Himmel er så blå. More serious emotions are explored in a farewell setting such as Oluf Rings Sig nærmer tiden and the chill of Laubs 1914 Det er hvidt herude. Listening to Aagaards Spurven sidder stum bag kvist put me in mind melodically speaking of a rather more central European scene, namely Good King Wenceslas as he was looking out on the Feast of Stephen, an occupation much indulged in that neck of the woods. The Nielsen settings are simple and charming especially the delightful Jeg bærer med smil min byrde (1915) but the generally slow moving convoy of folk material is spruced up by an allegretto-ish 1911 setting by Alfred Toft, Ole sad på en knold og sang (Ole sat singing on a knoll). There are some hints of Schubert in Gades På Sjølunds fagre sletter and in the same section, The Country and its History, Nielsen shows that patriotism in musical terms need not equal bombast (try Som en rejselysten flåde).

Elisabeth Meyer-Topsøe has quite a big voice, which she scales down well, and prominent vibrato. Some may feel its too big a voice for some of these settings but I find it generally well deployed and very convincingly musical. Pianist Per Salo plays well and relishes time "off the leash" in the pianistic setting Nu er dagen fuld af sang, a Nielsen song that allows witty independence to the piano line. The notes are good and there are full texts in Danish and English. Dont do with this disc what you do with a box of chocolates - a few at a time is the healthier option.

Jonathan Woolf



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