Alice TEGNÉR (1864-1943)
Gustaf NORDQVIST (1886-1949)

Sång, vår sång!
Ida Falk Winland (soprano)
Stenhammar Quartet (Peter Olofsson, Per Öman, violin, Tony Bauer, viola, Mats Olofsson, cello)
Katarina Lindgren (double bass)
Anders Ölund (organ)
Danderyds Vokalensemble/Rikard Karlsson
rec. November 2014, Norrby Church, Sweden
Sung texts with English translations enclosed.
BIS BIS-2237 [57:38]

By sheer coincidence I heard this excellent vocal ensemble perform parts of this programme only a couple of days before I was to listen to the present disc, which is their recording debut. That was in the generous cathedral acoustics of Stora Tuna Church in Dalecarlia. Having sung there on many occasions I know how grateful this venue is for singers. The lingering note carries the voices and there is no need to press the voice to produce powerful fortissimos. Danderyds Vokalensemble sounded like a choir of fifty when in reality they are only 23. Fresh young voices, excellent intonation, homogenous tone in the opening number boded well for a pleasant Saturday evening and that was how it turned out. It also boded well for my next listening session at home with the new disc in the player – and I wasn’t disappointed.

Norrby Church, like Stora Tuna, is a late medieval stone church with excellent acoustics for recording purposes, and BIS’ sound engineer Jens Braun has done a splendid job in catching the quality of the singing with the highest fidelity. Just the pleasure of hearing the choir is a treat in itself but what about the music?

Non-Swedish readers with an interest in great tenor singing may recall that one of Jussi Björling’s favourite songs was Till havs (At Sea) and then the name Gustaf Nordqvist might ring a bell. That was his composition, and Swedish music-lovers will also recognize Jul, jul, strålande jul, which is frequently sung at Yuletide. Swedes of my generation and, I hope, even slightly younger generations will remember singing many of Alice Tegnér’s songs at school. At Christmas time Betlehems stjärna will still be heard, though not as tastefully sung as here in Anders Öhrwall’s and Carl-Bertil Agnesting’s arrangement with a heavenly descant part. Even to fairly well-informed Swedish listeners much of the content of this disc will probably come as a surprise. Those involved in the numerous church choirs in Sweden will have encountered Nordqvist’s great settings of Psalm 23 and Psalm 100, and I am sure they will be appreciated by others as well for the nobility of the music.

As a whole this is easily digested late-romantic music for a wide audience and the only hindrance to adding the repertoire to one’s favourite list is probably the language. On the other hand songs in Latin as well as in other languages can be enjoyed without a deep understanding of the texts and on this issue there are good English translations in the booklet.

Alice Tegnér’s Loven Gud I himmelshöjd (tr. 1) makes a powerful opening and the title song Sång, vår sång! (tr. 4) by Nordqvist is excellently executed with perfect intonation and strong, full tone. His Lovsång (tr. 6) is worth hearing often and I was quite overwhelmed by his Feststycke (tr. 9) for organ solo – a piece I can’t remember hearing before. Well played by Anders Ölund this is music to return to. Tegnér’s Herren är min herde, Dexippos and Saliga (trs. 12-14) are also highlights, the last two with string quintet added to the choir. As in several other works with strings the arrangements are by Rickard Karlsson.

Ida Falk Winland is an excellent soprano soloist in several of the numbers. She is Swedish-born but trained in GB and has an international career with appearances at Covent Garden, Helsinki, Stockholm, La Scala and Glyndebourne.

Choral enthusiasts with a taste for music off the beaten track are well advised to invest in this high quality production.

Göran Forsling

1. Loven Gud i himmelshöjd! (Praise God in the heaven!) [0:57]
2. Salig, ja salig (Blessed, yea blessed) [2:37]
3. Davids 23:dje psalm (Psalm 23) [2:58]
4. Sång, vår sång! (Song, our song!) [1:47]
5. Bed att det dagas (Pray for the dawn) [3:25]
6. Lovsång (Song of praise) [2:14]
7. Trettondagshymn (Epiphany hymn) [2:53]
8. Långfredagsmotett (Motet for Good Friday) [2:30]
9. Feststycke (Festive Music) [3:40]
10. Davids psalm (Psalm 100) [1:53]
11. Allenast i Gud söker min själ sin ro (Truly my soul finds rest in God) [2:28]
12. Herren är min herde (The Lord is my shepherd) [2:04]
13. Ur Dexippos (From ‘Dexippos’) [3:25]
14. Saliga (Blessed) [1:44]
15. Sommarvisa (Summer song) [1:57]
16. Skåden liljorna (Consider the lilies) [3:37]
17. Liljekonvaljer (Lilies of the valley) [2:21]
18. I juletid (At Christmastime) [1:42]
19. Herdarna spela för barnet Jesus (The shepherds make music for the infant Jesus) [2:15]
20. Jul, jul, strålande jul (Yule, Yule, Radiant Yule!) [2:11]
21. Betlehemsstjärnan (Star of Betlehem) [1:31]
22. Betlehems stjärna (Star of Betlehem) [3:00]
23. En hymn till stjärnan (A hymn to the star) [2:19]

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