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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Ture RANGSTRÖM (1884-1947)
The Witches (Häxorna) (1938) [19.30]
Divertimento Elegiaco (1918) [15.59]
Partita in B minor for violin and orchestra (1933) [13.50]
Symphonic Poem - Song of the Sea (Havet Sjunger) (1913) [15.37]
Karin Ingebäck (sop)
Bernt Lysell (violin)
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Hannu Koivula, Leif Segerstam, Niklas Willén
rec. 1974-2001, Stockholm, ADD (Divertimento Elegiaco)/DDD
Musica Sveciae Modern Classics No. 12
PHONO SUECIA PSCD 712 [64.56]

Rangström's natural leaning was towards song and poetry. Of course there are four symphonies (of which the most memorable is the Third - well presented on both Sterling and CPO) but even these bear links with his vocal tradition. This disc has one song cycle for soprano and orchestra and three orchestral works. Both Häxorna (The Witches) and Den Utvolda (The Chosen One) were conceived for voice and orchestra rather than being written for voice and piano and then orchestrated. Häxorna sets poems by Erik Abel Karlfeldt. The subject is the Wicca world of spirits, libidinous spirits, things that fly and skitter in the depths of the night. Whether in the breathy tolling of the Walk not amidst guelder rose and sloes or the 'peg-leg' rhythm of Dance in a Plantain field Rangström summons a world of homunculi, nocturnal schemes, eldritch consummations and witchery. The final song, which runs to over seven minutes, adroitly catches a strange mood-scene

Far far away on the heath of heaths

You'll sit in a desolate Eden

As endless earth-suns rise and set

Nor aeons nor years are yours

Withering fast, you shall heavy climb ...

Karin Ingebäck sings with steady tone and is alive to the very unusual fantasy of this piece which can be read with Paul Schierbeck's Häxä and Dies Irae. The music is typical of the Scandinavian romantic scena but with the magical element ringing some idiosyncratic changes.

After such weird adventures we come to the placid Divertimento Elegiaco of 1918 which sounds like a psychologically more involved development of Grieg's music for strings (Holberg and Last Spring). The wistful scherzo would run well with Elgar's Serenade or Introduction and Allegro. This is the oldest recording here but the Swedish Radio strings sound silkily healthy.

The four movement Partita for violin and orchestra is predominantly neo-classical. This is a style, if not purged of neo-romantic feeling, certainly one that gives eminence to the back-to-Bach trend. Rangström seems to have made a deeper study of Bach scores during the early 1930s. The music finds 20th century parallels with Bach's suites without their harmonious quick badinage. The movements are Preambule, Menuett, Air and Gaillarde.

 

Song of the Sea is from 1913, separated from the Divertimento Elegiaco by a world war. It was written during the summer of that year in the fishing village of Harstena on the Östergötland archipelago. The sea is dusky and oleaginously threatening at first. The work is densely orchestrated and the orchestra is a Straussian one including four bassoons, six French horns, four trumpets and four trombones similar to the orchestra used by Alfvén in his Fourth Symphony. There is oppressive alarm, doom and catastrophe in this writing. While the atmosphere can be cut with a large and jagged knife the melodic material is not cut from the finest cloth until we get to the steadily unfolding theme at 7.07. Even this with its repetition of flame-curling higher woodwind is more atmospheric than dramatically potent. There is a Sibelian bleakness to the brass writing (8.43) and the chanting ostinato at 9.23 is persistent, like a fast moving swell. The piece was quarried by Rangström for his Third Symphony Song Under The Stars in 1929. The whole piece has a hypnotic manner and mood continuum varied only by the wide stretching theme at 0705. In the year of completing this piece Rangström bought himself a sailing boat that was to be his lifelong companion. I hope it is not too fanciful to imagine the weekend sailor's mesmerised reflection on the water clipped and shorn by the speeding wind-driven keel. There is a strong implication of film music inherent in this music. It is easy to imagine Bernard Herrmann championing this music for it has the vivid communicative quality of Raff's Lenore and Philip Sainton's The Island.

Rob Barnett



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