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Souvenirs from West Sweden
Elfrida ANDRÉE (1851-1929)
Andante quasi recitativo (1877) [4:24]
Knut HÅKANSON (1887-1929)
String Quartet No.1 (1917) [20:36]
Birgir ANREP-NORDIN (1888-1946)
Wedding music in a Summer Country Church (1940) [9:00]
Lille Bror SÖDERLUNDH (1912-1957)
Lullaby for Lindelin (1946) [3:14]
Siciliana seria for viola and strings (1946) [4:20]
Gösta NYSTROEM (1890-1966)
String Quartet (1956) [22:59]
David Bergström (violin – Andante, Lullaby), Bengt Ersson (viola – Wedding music), Bengt Andersson (viola – Siciliana), EROK string quartet, Strings from the Göteborg Opera.
rec. Lundby Church (Andante, Lullaby, Siciliana), Hemsjö Church (String quartets), Släps Church (Wedding music). Dates not given.
ALTVIOL i FÄST AIVCD002 [64:51]
Also includes DVD documentary on rehearsals and recordings of the works by Andrée, Håkanson and Söderlundh
ALTVIOL i FÄST AIVDVD002 [21:13]



More atmospheric music from Sweden on the Alfviol i Fäst label, these works have all recently been recorded in pleasant church acoustics, and are sensitively and expressively performed by some of Sweden’s top string players.
 
Elfrida Andrée was appointed as organist to the Göteborg Cathedral in 1867, and she kept this position until her death. She was the first female organist in Sweden and as such, met a lot of mistrust from the clergy. After the death of the liberal dean Peter Wieselgren, it became difficult for her to carry on with her musical duties in the cathedral, and she was often forced to move her concerts to Christinae church instead. Her short but lovely Andante quasi recitativo for string orchestra was clearly one of the composer’s favourites, and she used it at many of her concert programmes and recycled the music in her Orgelsymfoni (Organ Symphony) in B minor, as a movement for piano in Fyra stycken för piano (Four pieces for piano), and as a version for cello and organ.
 
Knut Håkanson was born in Kinna, south of Borås. His father died young of a kidney diseased that was also to claim the life of the composer aged only 42, and as a result the mother and son moved to Stockholm. This is where he studied piano, composition and counterpoint, combined with language studies and philosophy at the University in Uppsala. He was a keen viola player and was deeply involved in performing in the string quartet setting. As a result his Stråkkvartett nr 1 is effectively written, immediately approachable but full of colour and contrast.
 
Birger Anrep-Nordin was born in Skara. After a short career in Kalmar, he established himself in Göteborg in 1924 as music teacher, organist and critic until his death. He was also a musicologist and wrote a doctorate thesis on Josef Martin Kraus. The movements of Bröllopsmusik i en landskyrka om sommaren (Wedding music in a summer country church) can partly be characterised as program music with names as Bröllopsparet tågar in (The Bridal procession) - Dialog inför altaret (Dialogue at the altar) - Lyckönskan (Best wishes), which has a remarkable “don’t I know this tune from somewhere?” quality, and Brudföljets uttåg (The Bridal train). This piece is typical of the composer with its mixture of folklore and influences of 17th and 18th century music. The organ part is fairly restrained, and aside from a few solo lines is used very much as an accompaniment to the solo viola. The small organ in the close sounding acoustic of the Church in Släps is entirely appropriate to an intimate, village view of the work.
 
Lille Bror Söderlundh was born in Kristinehamn and spent his youth in Charlottenberg. He had early contact with the Folk-Music School at Ingesund, Arvika (today The Ingesund School of Music, University of Karlstad) and studied the violin and the viola in the same period. In his time, the composer enjoyed national celebrity for singing his own and others songs to lute accompaniment, but his more serious compositions remained unrecognised in his lifetime. Nattvisa till Lindelin (Lullaby for Lindelin) for strings was composed in 1946 and was intended to be part of a longer suite. Siciliana seria för viola samt stråkar (Siciliana seria for viola and strings), also from 1946 first appeared in a version for organ. Both pieces are disarmingly expressive and, deceptively simple, underline Lille Bror Söderlundh’s own statement in a newspaper interview that folk music was present in everything he composed.
 
Gösta Nystroem was born in Dalarna (Dalecarlia). After studies at The Royal College of Music in Stockholm, he took up studies in composition and painting in Copenhagen and later in 1919, in Paris. He returned from France in 1932 and later settled in Särö and during a later period also in Marstrand, close to Göteborg. The Stråkkvartett (String quartet) has by a long way the most dramatic and ‘modern’ aspect of the pieces on this disc, even with some hints of Shostakovich and Bartók in its three strongly expressive movements.
 
The extra DVD included with this recording is something of a souvenir in its own right. Aside from some shots which show the clean, modern interior of Lundby Church and some complete movements from the Håkanson quartet, there is little to get the visual juices flowing. Most of the camerawork is a fairly stiff registration of the musicians at work, either in rehearsal or surrounded by microphones, and while there is no narration – and therefore no need for subtitles – there’s no telling what the musician’s jokes are about either, unless you can find yourself a tame Swede to translate. It is nice to see some faces and be able to put recordings and location into some kind of visual context, but high flying visual entertainment it is not.
 
These recordings have done nothing to dissuade me from the impression that Sweden’s musical output from the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries is almost invariably soulful and filled with nostalgic longings and sadness. If it’s already a dark and rainy Thursday afternoon this disc might best be left on the shelf, but with some gorgeous playing and première recordings of some beautiful music it would be a shame not to have it to hand when one is feeling poetic and estranged from music with the human touch.
 
Dominy Clements 
 
Other releases in this series
Volume 1 Souvenirs from Gothenburg
Volume 3 Souvenirs from 1974 Concerts


 


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