Kirsten Flagstad Sings Norwegian Hymns
CD 1
1. I prektige himle og jorderiks haere (Lindeman – Brorson) (In glory of the heavens) [2:41]
2. Herre Gud, ditt dyre navn og aere (Norwegian folk tune – Dass) (Lord, hallowed be thy name) [2:09]
3. Helig, helig, helig, Herre Gud allmektig (Dykes – Heber, Jensen) (Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord God Almighty) [3:09]
4. Kjaerlighet fra Gud (Thompson – Schjørring) (Love wells from God) [1:44]
5. Lover den Herre (Stralsund – Neander, Jessen) (Praise to the Lord) [3:02]
6. Sørg, o Kjaere Fader, du (Lindeman – Elisabeth, Hultfeldt, Wexels) (Care for me, O God of grace) [3:11]
7. Leid, milde Ljos (Purday – Newman, Hognestad) (Lead, kindly light) [3:41]
8. Gud signe vårt dyre fedreland (Weyse – Blix) (God bless our Motherland) [2:34]
9. Deilig er jorden (Folk tune – Ingemann) (Fairest Lord Jesus) [3:14]
10. Gud skal all ting lage (Lindeman – Stockmann, Brorson) (God shall all things provide) [3:37]
11. Nu la oss takke Gud (Crüger – Rinckart, Aegidius) (Now thank we all our God) [2:48]
12. Dype, stille, sterke, milde (Lindeman – Oldenburg) (Deep, still, strong, gentle) [2:45]
13. Vår Gud han er så fast en borg (Luther – Landstad) (A mighty fortress is our God) [4:43]
14. Påskermorgen slukker sorgen (Lindeman – Grundtvig) (Easter morning, joyous dawning) [3:09]
15. Den store hvite flokk, å se (Folk tune – Brorson) (The pure and mighty flock) [2:46]
16. Den signede dag, som nu vi ser (Weyse – Grundtvig) (The blessed day we now can see) [2:38]
17. Kvardagskristen vi leg vera (Folk tune – Orheim) (An everyday Christian I wish to be) [3:19]
18. Kirken den er et gammelt hus (Lindeman – Grundtvig) (The church ’tis an ancient house) [4:42]
19. Du Herre, som er sterk og stor (Grieg – Rolfsen, Runeberg) (Oh LOrd, thou art so great and strong) [2:39]
CD 2
1. Jeg ser deg, O Guds Lam (Folk tune – Brorson) (I see thee, o Lamb of God) [4:23]
2. Ingen vinner frem til den evige ro (Folk tune – Linderot, Jensen) (Nobody gaineth eternal peace) [3:35]
3. Eg lyfter upp til Gud min sorg (Vogel – Landstad) (I raise up my song to the Lord) [3:06]
4. Kjaerlighet fra Gud (Beethoven – Schjørring) (The love of God) [3:17]
5. Sions vekter hever røsten (Nicolai after H Sachs – Nicolai, Landstad) (Sleepers awake) [4:35]
6. På Gud alene (Zinck – Brandt) (In God alone) [3:18]
7. Jesus din søte forening (Folk tune – Allendorf, Hygom) (Jesus, thy union sweet) [4:52]
8. Alltid fredig når du går (Weyse – Richardt) (Go boldly forth as you go) [2:03]
9. Av høyheten opprunnen er (Nicolai – Landstad) (Arisen from on high) [4:08]
10. Min sjel, min sjel, lov Herren (Trad – Gramann, Landstad) (My soul, my soul, praise the Lord) [4:41]
11. Overmåde fullt av nåde (Trad – Brorson) (Imbued with grace abundant) [3:11]
12. Ett er nødig, dette ene (Krieger/Neander – Shröder, Brorson) (This alone is needed) [3:17]
13. Fred til bot for bittert savn (Hartman – Grundtvig) (Peace as penance for bitter loss) [2:19]
14. Jesus dine dype vunder (Trad – Heermann, Arctande) (Jesus, thy wounds so deep) [4:01]
15. I denne verdens sorger senkt (Trad – Petri/Wallin, Landstad) (Into grief this world sinks) [3:15]
16. Mitt hjerte alltid vanker (Folk tune – Brorson) (My heart will always wander) [3:34]
Kirsten Flagstad (soprano); Sigvart Fotland (organ)
rec. Ris Church, Oslo, Norway, September 1956
DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 1836 [59:48 + 58:42]
There is nothing in Kirsten Flagstad’s autobiography that reveals anything about her religious beliefs, and it may be rash to conclude from the above repertoire that she was a believer. Still it seems plausible that she had some sympathies with the message in these hymns. The idea was not hers – it was the producer Torstein Gunnarson who asked her if she had an interest in recording some hymns for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. Presumably it was also Gunnarson who made the selection, which she studied during the summer of 1956 and then recorded over a period of three days in September. All in all she set down 35 hymns which were broadcast and also issued on records – at least some of them. Tracks 15-19 on CD 1 and all of CD 2 were never issued. Whether they were available elsewhere, I have not been able to find out.
‘Kirsten Flagstad Sings Norwegian Hymns’ says the header. They are all sung in Norwegian but not all of them are by Norwegian composers. Several have Danish origins, others are well known also in the rest of Europe. Even though they were aimed at Norwegian listeners the recordings should be attractive for a wider audience. The hymns are accompanied Sigvart Fotland on the organ of Ris Church in Oslo. Several are preceded by preludes composed by Eyvind Alnaes and one each by Thomas Laub and Ludvig Nielsen.
Flagstad sings throughout with nobility and warmth. This is enhanced by her singing mainly in the contralto register. There are no attempts at ‘interpreting’ the texts. For the native speaker they speak for themselves, and they are of course intended to be sung by a congregation, where everyone makes his/her own interpretation. It is however a treat to hear them sung so straightforwardly and simply by one of the great voices of all time. Her tendency to overuse portamento, which I have commented on in several of the previous releases, is very little in evidence here. Hearing all thirty-five hymns at one sitting is naturally not the best way of enjoying them. They should be heard two or three at a time and then these discs should be very useful for believers as well as plain admirers of fine singing. Ideally I would have wished the texts with English translations printed in the booklet but at Eloquence price such extravagances can’t be expected nowadays.
The repertoire may not have universal appeal, but the singing should have. Kirsten Flagstad’s regal voice was still near its prime – and she had already turned sixty-one!
Göran Forsling
The repertoire may not have universal appeal, but the singing should have … see Full Review