Xavier MONTSALVATGE (1912 - 2002)
Cinco canciones negras (1945)
Cuba dentro de un piano [4:38]
Punto de Habanera (Siglo XVIII) [1:56]
Chévere [2:15]
Canción de cuna para dormer a un negrito [3:11]
Canto negro [1:09]
Enrique GRANADOS (1867 - 1916)
Canciones Amatorias (1915)
Descubrase el pensamiento [3:55]
Mañanica era [2:22]
Llord, Corazon, que teneis razon [2:20]
Mira que soy niña [3:24]
No iloreis, ojuelos [1:24]
Iban al pinar [2:21]
Gracia mia [3:03]
Jesús GURIDI (1886 - 1961)
Seis Canciones Castellanas (1939)
Allá arriba, en aquella montaña [2:34]
¡Serano! [2:30]
Llámale con el pañuelo [2:24]
No quiéro tus avellánas [3:51]
Como quieres que adivine [3:03]
Mañanita de San Juan [3:33]
Manuel de FALLA (1876 - 1946)
Siete Canciones populares Españolas (1914-1915)
El Paño moruno [1:25]
Seguidilla murciana [1:23]
Asturiana [2:39]
Jota [2:51]
Nana [1:35]
Canción [1:08]
Polo [1:41]
Annika Skoglund (mezzo); Love Derwinger (piano)
rec. Kulturhuset, Ytterjärna, Sweden, 16-19 February 2009
sung texts with English and Swedish translations enclosed
ICTUS DISC IMP1009 [62:58]

‘… for the songs to really reach people and push its through to the listener “duende” is needed.’ This quotation is from Lorca, who continues: ‘The big artists from Southern Spain, gypsies or flamenco artists, whether they sing, dance or play, know that no feeling is possible without duende … In other words, the duende is a power, not a work; it is a struggle and not a thought. I have heard an old guitar master say “Duende is not in the throat; duende climbs up inside you, from the soles of your feet.” That is to say, it’s not about ability, but about a real, living expression; that is to say, of blood, of ancient culture and at the same time, spontaneous creation.’

From this statement it is easy to draw the conclusion that you should ideally be more or less born into an idiom to be a good interpreter. And certainly, the best performances of this, and closely related repertoire, have come from native Spanish singers: Conchita Supervia, Victoria de los Angeles, Montserrat Caballé, Teresa Berganza and, in present time, Maria Bayo. So how can a Swedish singer be expected to challenge those mentioned?

First of all I don’t believe that Annika Skoglund’s aim with this disc is to challenge those steeped in the Spanish tradition but she has her own ‘duende’: living expression and spontaneous creation, and, even though she trained to be an opera singer, and has worked in that field for 25 years, she has also a background as jazz singer with a freedom of expression that has more than a fleeting relationship with the Spanish musical tradition. Her well schooled mezzo-soprano also embraces those raw chest-tones that one can find in a flamenco artist or, for that matter, Leontyne Price who made a memorable recording of de Falla’s El amor brujo.

But I don’t think ‘duende’ has very much to do with power and violence, rather with expression - and scaling down the voice, singing softly is very often the most efficient way of catching the listener. In the Montsalvatge cycle - a firm favourite ever since I heard Teresa Berganza in the early 1970s - she employs a thin girl-like tone, frail, vulnerable and humane. She spices the end of Chévere with deep contralto tone and in Canto negro, rhythmically alluring, she also shows her full voiced dramatic power. Her jazz background shines through.

The Granados songs are more outgoing and here I feel that her vibrato sometimes becomes too wide at forte but it is no doubt deeply emotional singing. Guridi is the least well known of these composers but these are eminently fine songs and it was an inspired choice of repertoire: the rhythmically and harmonically thrilling, Llámale con el pañuelo (tr. 15), the inward and beautiful No quiéro tus avellánas (tr. 16) and the beautiful Mañanita de San Juan (tr. 18) with its transparent impressionist accompaniment are certainly songs to return to.

The seven de Falla songs exist in numerous recordings and while Annika Skoglund’s readings don’t erase the memories of those by Berganza and de los Angeles they are well sung and crowned by a vehement Polo.

Love Derwinger is one of the foremost Swedish accompanists and his playing is absolutely marvellous. The excellent recording catches every nuance of his well considered readings and the balance between singer and pianist is as perfect as anything else I have heard. Bertil Alving has done it again! The only thing that irritated me slightly was that the texts and the translations are not printed side by side but separately. If I wanted to follow the Spanish text and see the translation I hade to flip back and forth all the time, which was inconvenient.

Göran Forsling