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REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

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Nordic Winter and Christmas Songs
Gitta-Maria Sjöberg (soprano)
Dorthe Zielke (trumpet); Tobias Durholm (violin); Lindy Rosborg (organ)
rec. Andreas Church, Copenhagen, Denmark, no date supplied

My colleague John France reviewed this collection a couple of months ago and summed up his reactions thus: “This is an attractive release that features a largely unknown repertoire, at least to listeners outside Scandinavia. It is beautifully arranged, exquisitely sung by Gitta-Maria Sjöberg, finely accompanied by the musicians and well-presented as a disc.”

I wholeheartedly agree but since I am Scandinavian I am supposed to be familiar with the repertoire. Alas I am not. I know the Swedish songs – Adam’s O Holy Night is so well-known in Sweden through Jussi Björling’s recording that it has been more or less adopted. The same goes for När juldagsmorgon glimmar, a German students’ song that Johannes Brahms also included in his Academic Festival Overture. Matti Borg’s Vinternatt is not a standard song in itself, it was included in Borg’s group of 15 Fröding songs, which was released in 2014 (review). One more song is standard fare in Sweden and that is Sibelius’s Julsång (Christmas Song) Op. 1 No. 4, a setting of a Swedish text. Demanten på marssnön, though without association with Christmas, is one of Sibelius’s most popular songs. Otherwise each of the Nordic countries - I prefer Nordic to Scandinavian in this case - have their own songs for the Festive season. Like John France I was also thrilled to hear a song from the Faroe Islands just as vocal music from Iceland seems to be a rarity.

The choice of songs is very attractive and the programme as such is so varied that it can be listened to at one sitting without any sense of monotony. Matti Borg’s own compositions are attractive and there are several songs besides them that I hope will be spread across the Nordic countries.

Gitta Maria Sjöberg also has the ability to scale down her operatic voice and stress the simplicity of many of the songs. The arrangements are simple but effective and as a whole this is a disc that should win many new admirers of the “exotic” songs from the northernmost part of Europe.

In my copy of the booklet the text on page 18 is identical with the text on page 16.

Göran Forsling

Previous review: John France


Matti BORG (b.1956) Juledag from ‘15 Christmas and Wintersongs [2:30]; Vinterskoven [2:17]; Julestjernen [2:11]; Helligtrekongersaften [1:49]

Dala chorale: Den signade dag [2:37[]
German folk melody: När juldagsmorgon glimmer [2:02]
Gustaf NORDQUIST (1886-1949) Jul, jul, strålande jul [1:57]
Alice TEGNÉR (1864-1943) Betlehems Stjärna [3:46]

C. E. F. WEYSE (1774-1842) Velkommen igen Guds engle små [2:38]
Povl HAMBURGER (1901-1972) Der er ingenting i verden så stille som sne [3:10]
Th. AAGAARD (1877-1937) Sneflokke kommer vrimlende [1:26]
Matti BORG Hviler du min ven from Anderscenarier [2:13]

Ruben LILJEFORS (1871-1936) När det lider mot jul [3:00]
Emmy KÖHLER (1858-1925) Nu tändas tusen juleljus [1:54]
Adolphe ADAM (1803-1856) Jul-sång [6:48]
Matti BORG Vinternatt from 15 sånger til dikter av Gustaf Fröding [3:36]

Faroe Islands:
Regin DAHL (1918-2007) Veturin kom við kulda og kava [2:30]

Folksong: Sumri hallar [2:48]

Per KNUDSEN (?) Jeg er så glad hver julekveld [1:38]
Trad. O Jul med din glede [2:38]
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) No ser eg atter slike fjell og dalar [1:38]

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Julvisa op.1 nr. 4 [1:38]; Demanten på Marssnön op.36 nr. 6 [2:38]
Armas MAASALO (1885-1960) Joulun kellot [2:47]



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