Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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

Kerstin JEPPSSON (b.1948)
Impossibile (1977)a
Embrio (1990)b
String Quartet No.2 (1999/2000)c
Kvinnosånger (1973)d
De mörka änglarna: Tre motetter (1980/88)e
Ingrid Tobiasson (mezzo-soprano)a; Katarina Dalayman (soprano)b; Lena Hoel (soprano)d; Bengt Forsberg (piano)d, Talekvartettenc; Gustaf Sjökvist’s Chamber Choire; Kam-marensembleNa; Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestrab; Joakim Unandera, Mats Rondinb, Gustaf Sjökviste
Recorded: Berwald Hall, Stockholm, December 2002 (Embrio); Studio 2, Radiohuset, Stockholm, May 2001 (String Quartet No.2), June 2002 (Impossibile) and September 2001 (Kvinnosånger) and Stockholm Cathedral, January 2003 (Tre motetter)


The works featured in this composer’s portrait span some twenty-five years of Kerstin Jeppsson’s composing career and thus provide a fairly comprehensive survey of her present output. Four of these pieces are vocal, which says much for the composer’s concern for the voice (she was trained as a singer), even at some early stages of her creative life. The earliest work here Kvinnosånger ("Women’s Songs") were composed in 1973 when she was still a student of Maurice Karkoff. These songs for soprano and piano are still clearly indebted to the Nordic song tradition, and somewhat redolent of early Lidholm or of Karkoff himself. Fairly traditional, straightforward but quite appealing. These early songs are by no means prentice works and already display some considerable assurance.

The song-cycle for mezzo-soprano and ensemble Impossibile composed in 1977 show a clear stylistic progress when compared to the earlier songs. That said, these settings, again eminently grateful to the ear, display a more advanced idiom, though in no way intractably modern or experimental. Jeppsson is first and foremost a lyrical composer for whom expression and communication are paramount. This clearly shows in this and the other pieces recorded here. Impossibile is a work "about shadows, darkness, and light". The expert scoring for a dark human voice (mezzo-soprano or alto) and small ensemble allows for a wide range of expression while being perfectly suited to the often sombre moods suggested by the words.

The three motets De mörka änglarna ("The Dark Angels") were not originally conceived as a group. In fact, the first piece Till dig was composed in 1980 whereas the other two were written in 1988. On the whole, these beautifully crafted and fairly simple settings are traditional. They again aim at direct communication in readily accessible terms, which the composer achieves without fuss but with remarkable efficiency.

The orchestral cycle Embrio completed in 1990 is by far the most substantial and ambitious piece in this release, and – no doubt – a high watermark in Jeppsson’s present output. "Embrio has to do with germination, growth, and change from something small – perhaps a seed or a human embryo." This impressive, almost Mahlerian song-cycle sets three poems by Ulla Olin, which she interprets in more universal terms than those superficially suggested by the words. The idea of growth is prominent in this large-scale, almost symphonic structure (actually this is the very basis of any musical work). The substantial first song opens with a weighty orchestral introduction out of which the rest of the piece grows. The second song is more meditative and questioning in mood whereas the final song partly looks back on the opening movement before reaching its assertive conclusion. Embrio is a beautiful work and unquestionably one of Jeppsson’s most impressive achievements so far.

The Second String Quartet was completed in 2000. The music, though idiomatically written for strings, cannot conceal the composer’s liking of vocal textures, particularly so in the recitative-like passages for the cello in the first section and in the viola’s "introverted sermon" in the second one. This fine work ends with a dance-like final section incorporating reminiscences from the previous movements.

Much fine, worthwhile and often beautiful music here that generously repays repeated hearings. All the performances are very fine and well recorded, and serve the music well. I now look forward to hearing more of Jeppsson’s music soon. Recommended.

Hubert Culot


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