Elin Skorup: Morgen
Richard STRAUSS (1864 – 1949)
1. Morgen [3:47]
2. Amor [3:06]
3. Das Rosenband [3:06]
4. Wiegenlied [4:04]
Ingvar LIDHOLM (b. 1921)
5. För vilsna fötter sjunger gräset [1:49]
6. Vid Medelhavet [1:20]
7. Madonnans vaggvisa [2:50]
Gunnar de FRUMERIE (1908 – 1987)
8. Källan [1:57]
9. Från mitt väsens yta [1:01]
10. Intet är förgäves [1:26]
11. Det kom ett brev [2:52]
Maurice KARKOFF (b. 1927)
12. Ekorren [1:38]
13. I mörkret hos dig [3:21]
14. Thalatta! [1:16]
15. Handens insida [2:29]
16. Det är en solig dag [1:48]
Gösta NYSTROEM (1890 – 1966)
17. Det enda [3:42]
18. På reveln [2:40]
19. Otrolig dag [1:15]
20. Havet sjunger [2:21]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797 – 1828)
21. Ständchen [3:51]
22. Heimliches Lieben [4:07]
23. Nähe des Geliebten [3:17]
24. An den Mond [4:02]
Elin Skorup (soprano), Fabienne Romer (piano)
rec. Växjö Concert Hall, Sweden, 4-7 July 2011
Liner notes but no song texts
DAPHNE 1044 [64:43]
Elin Skorup is a young Swedish soprano who studied at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm where she met Swiss-born pianist Fabienne Romer, who was also a student there. They soon realized that they both had a deep interest in art songs and formed the Skorup-Romer Duo, specialising in the Swedish, German and French song repertoire. On this disc they have chosen settings of poems from four centuries.
Richard Strauss’s Morgen and Wiegenlied are two of the best known works from the whole song repertoire and inevitably invite comparisons with singers from the past and present. Elin Skorup has a beautiful voice and sings with feeling and commitment. She also has a tendency, not uncommon these days, to start a phrase or a single tone almost vibrato-less and then squeeze it for more volume, whereby the voice opens up and becomes more vibrant. The vibrato is controlled but this squeezing gives the impression of breaking the legato line and of longer phrases being chopped up in smaller portions. One gets used to it but I wish she could even out the pressure and produce a more seamless legato. The same thing happens in Das Rosenband. The second of the Strauss songs, Amor, is something of a rarity. The poem is by Clemens von Brentano (1778 – 1842) and is No. 5 of the six Brentano-Lieder, Op. 68 from 1918. The songs were composed with Elisabeth Schumann in mind, but it is uncertain that she ever sang all of them, definitely not No. 6 Lied der Frauen wenn die Männer im Kriege sind which is more like an operatic scena and needs a Salome or Elektra voice. Also Amor, with its Zerbinetta-like coloratura was hardly Schumann’s cup of tea. Skorup’s technical accomplishment is indisputable and she has both brilliance and power for this testing piece.
Ingvar Lidholm is the doyen of Swedish composers and has been in the avant-garde forefront since the 1940s. Several of his choral and orchestral works are firmly established as modern classics. When he wrote these three songs he was in his early twenties and his tonal language was then rather traditional, inspired by, say, Hugo Wolf and other late-romantic composers. Hjalmar Gullberg (1898 – 1961) has inspired various settings, most notably by Lars-Erik Larsson in God in Disguise, which is almost contemporaneous with the Lidholm songs. För vilsna fötter sjunger gräset (The grass sings to erring feet) was also memorably set for mixed choir by Lille Bror Söderlundh, whose centenary is celebrated this year (2012) Lidholm’s setting is melodically not unlike Söderlundh’s and should be heard more frequently. Vid Medelhavet (By the Mediterranean) describes a loving couple in a beautiful landscape but the love is ebbing away and the melody becomes more drained of life. Lope de Vega (1562 – 1635) is well known as a dramatist but he was a prolific author and his The Madonna’s Lullaby is heard in the Swedish of Carl August Hagberg, famous for his Shakespeare translations. There are influences from the Middle Ages in Lidholm’s music and it is sung simply and with rather a thin tone.
Gunnar de Frumerie became the foremost musical interpreter of Pär Lagerkvist’s poetry, the equivalent of what Peterson-Berger was for another Nobel Prize winner, Karlfeldt. They are agreeable settings in a mainly late-romantic idiom. The most directly appealing is Det kom ett brev (A Letter Came).
Maurice Karkoff is one of the most individual and prolific of Swedish composers after World War Two. Ekorren (The Squirrel) is a lively and unpredictable little rascal, the piano accompaniment tells us, while I mörkret hos dig (Beside you in the darkness) is a warm and inward love song. Thalatta! is Greek for “The sea”; poem describes the morning light on a seashore. This is a twelve-tone composition, as is the following Handens insida (The palm of the hand). Det är en solig dag (It is a sunny day) is joyous and vivacious with a more contemplative middle section.
Internationally the best known of the four Swedish composers here is Gösta Nystroem. Though born in an inland region the sea became all-important to him. All four poems here describe the sea in different situations, and the melody of Det enda (The one and only) was also used in Nystroem’s masterwork Sinfonia del mare (1947 – 1948). Anyone fascinated by these four songs - and I imagine many will be if they allow themselves the opportunity - are advised to read John France’s review of Sinfonia del mare and other works and also track down references to other Nystroem discs. In På reveln (On the sandspit) we hear butterflies fluttering; Otrolig dag (Incredible day) has a simple beautiful melody and Havet sjunger (The sea sings) paints a powerful and colourful picture of the sea and asks the question: Does the sea matter more than love? Nystroem’s songs are well worth seeking out and there is a full CD, also on the Daphne label, with Charlotte Hellekant (see Gary Higginson’s review).
The four concluding Schubert songs again pit Elin Skorup against all the great singers of the past. For all her commitment it is impossible not to feel that there is more to these songs than she can produce today. It is honest singing but it is one-dimensional and monochrome. I am convinced that in a few years’ time she will be able to give these songs their due. Here she presents a blueprint that is promising. She has a splendid pianist by her side and the Swedish songs are well worth investigating.
Göran Forsling
Indisputable technical accomplishment coupled with brilliance and power.