Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

SKÄRGÅRDSKISSER - Sketches of the Archipelago
Swedish Piano Music (1910-1945) - Volume 1
Nils BJÖRKANDER (1893-1972)

Four Archipelago Sketches (1923) [10.35]
Yngve SKÖLD (1899-1992)

Preludio e Fuga - quasi una fantasia (1921-22) [15.50]
Bror BECKMAN (1866-1929)

Garden Flowers - Bagatelles (1920,23,06) [4.30]
Gustaf HEINTZE (1879-1946)

Impromtptu - from Four Pieces op. 12 (?) [5.45]
Ballad in D flat major (?) [12.40]
Ingemar LILJEFORS (1906-1981)

Andante e Scherzo (1941) [7.45]
Gottfrid BERG (1889-1970)

Wanderings - Four Pieces (1927) [11.12]
Lennart LUNDBERG (1863-1931)

Nocturne Op. 61 No. 2 (1900s) [4.10]
Concert Etude in A minor Op. 19, Toccata (1900s) [5.45]
Hans Pålsson (piano)
rec Studio 2 Radiohuset, 6 Dec 2000; 28 Feb - 2 March 2001

PO Swedish Music Information Centre
Box 27327, SE-102 54 Stockholm, Sweden


Phono-Suecia's pilgrimage through the byways of Swedish music has yielded up many treasures. This is the fifteenth disc in the series issued between 1998 and 2003 at the rate of four per year. There are two volumes anthologised from Swedish solo piano music during the period 1910 to 1945. Both include music of conservative inclination as well as pieces some which glance towards dissonant horizons. The two discs (both reviewed on this site) are unusual in this series in that they mix music by a range of composers rather than working on the basis that predominates across Phono-Sueciae of one composer per disc.

Bjorkander, a Stockholm figure. He was not a profuse producer. There is a Sonatina (1942), a concert fantasy (piano and orchestra) and various suites: In Hemmar Hamlet and Glimtar (Glimpses),both from 1946. The Four Archipelago Sketches are variously joyous and unbridled, with tartly harmonised carillons, dance figures and rain-drop reflections. Bjorkander can conjure an easy-flowing dance in the spirit of Grieg. Several moments in this sequence are a counterpart, though shorter-breathed, of John Foulds' April-England.

Sköld's slavonic Prelude and Fugue was written in Brno. This is darker and rhapsodic music with a touch of Gold's Exodus about the Prelude. Sköld wrote a great deal including four symphonies and four string quartets. There are also three piano concertos and two fantasies for piano and orchestra. The piece featured here is dedicated to his teacher Wilém Kurz - that's the same Kurz who made a performing edition of the Dvořák Piano Concerto.

Beckman's five miniature 'blooms' are lightish Macdowell-like pieces although sometimes, as in the fourth piece, The Evening Hearth ... (tr. 10), there is a touch of the singing Medtner about the themes. This composer, rather like Sillén (whose orchestral music appeared on a Sterling CD last year) and Ives, was an insurance broker. There is a symphony in F major (1895), a tone poem About Happiness and a bipartite work for strings entitled Under Summer Stars. Such titles!

Heintze wrote extensively for the piano. There are four piano concertos and another for two pianos. In addition there are some reportedly elegant chamber pieces, a piano quintet and trio, and two violin concertos. The impromptu swings in the slowest of slow motion. The Ballad is a major piece, Grieg-like but serious and rising to an ecstatic release.

Liljefors' Andante e scherzo manages to summon up images of rain-heavy clouds, a Siberian shiver in the air and a wintry downpour. He also wrote a symphony (1943), sinfonietta (1961) and violin concerto (1956). His father was Ruben, another composer whose symphony has been recorded by Sterling.

Gottfried Berg has more of a reputation (at least in Sweden) for sacred choral music. The four pieces entitled Wandering are out of the same folk-naïf style as Peterson-Berger's Frösö pieces and Bjorkander's marine pastels. These are fresh air pieces similar to Moeran's Irish style. Wanderings take in some bleak and the desolation of empty spaces.

Lastly Lennart Lundberg rounds out the generous collection (a longer playing time than vol. 2) with a Nocturne (clear-eyed and lissom) and a Toccata (shatter-cold and with a Beethovenian blunt masculinity).

Phono Sueciae again directs light into the darker recesses of Swedish music. So dark in fact that those who wondered at all probably concluded there was nothing there worth illuminating. They were wrong.

Pålsson has all the requisite sympathy and technique for these pieces. The recording quality tends to a warmth that slightly clouds the middle register.

Rob Barnett

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