This is Me
Susanna Andersson (soprano)
Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra/Tecwyn Evans
rec. Konserthuset, Helsingborg, 2015
Sung texts enclosed but no translations
ORLANDO RECORDS OR0029 [74:12]
Though Swedish born and bred, soprano Susanna Andersson has had her musical training and most of her career abroad. She has an eclectic repertoire, ranging in time from the Baroque (Vivaldi, Handel) to the present time (Schnelzer), she sings in six languages and is stylistically versatile. Browsing through the track-list I noticed that she sings The Queen of the Night, and the opening Vivaldi aria revealed at once that her coloratura is in perfect order. The aria is good, as Vivaldi’s arias often are, and when we come to Mozart’s Vorrei spiegarvi we know that he wrote it for one of the greatest virtuosi of his time, Aloysia Lange. It was written as an insert aria in Pasquale Anfossi’s opera Il curioso indiscreto for performances in Vienna 1783, and the tessitura is challengingly high, but that poses no problems for Susanna Andersson. She sings Alfvén’s Skogen sover with impeccable legato and in the other Vivaldi aria she sports a fine trill. Her blonde Nordic tone is ideal for Grieg’s Solveigs sang and Handel’s by now well-known Lascia ch’io pianga is sensitively sung without a lot of fuss.
There follows a 20th century classic, Anne Trulove’s big aria from The Rake’s Progress, with inward opening and the aria proper is intense with fearless coloratura. More of that kind, and even more advanced, comes in the second of The Queen of the Night’s arias. Pin-point articulation.
I can’t remember hearing Schubert’s Erlkönig with orchestra accompaniment before. The orchestra no doubt adds intensity to the drama, but Susanna Andersson’s bright and blonde tone lacks the darker nuances for the father’s lines and the boy and the Erlkönig sound very much the same too.
Albert Schnelzer wrote the song cycle Animal Songs for Susanna Andersson and the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra and the two songs recorded here – to poems by Margaret Atwood – makes me wish to hear the full cycle. There is tone painting related to Stravinsky and the songs are really good – as is the singing!
Leo Delibes’s Bell Song is also notoriously difficult, but Susanna Andersson handles the challenges easily. The a cappella opening is technically superb, and besides trills, roulades and a magnificent downward portamento, she radiates warmth and humanity. The concluding fireworks are amazing!
After these excursions up in the stratosphere it is refreshing and relaxing with her simple and beautiful O mio babbino caro, so naturally and touchingly sung. Richard Strauss’s Morgen, with the etheric violin solo beautifully played by Gordan Trajkovic, is wonderfully soft and lyrical. Gordan also plays in the specially written arrangement by Björn Kleiman of Michel Legrand’s Papa, can you hear me? A fine song and a fine arrangement that brings this well-filled disc to an agreeable end. The Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, one of Sweden’s oldest orchestras, play well as expected under Susanna Andersson’s husband, New Zealand-born Tecwyn Evans.
A disc to treasure for singing and repertoire alike.
Antonio VIVALDI (1678 – 1741)
1. Certo timor ch’ho in petto [4:37]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791)
2. Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio! [7:38]
Hugo ALFVÉN (1872 – 1960)
3. Skogen sover [2:42]
4. Alma oppressa [5:16]
Edvard GRIEG (1843 – 1907)
5. Solveigs sang [4:57]
George Frideric HANDEL (1685 – 1759)
6. Lascia ch’io pianga [3:57]
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882 – 1971)
The Rake’s Progress:
7. No word from Tom [8:28]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
8. Der Hölle Rache [3:06]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797 – 1828)/Arr. Franz LISZT (1811 – 1886)
9. Erlkönig [4:14]
Albert SCHNELZER (b. 1972)
10. Rat song [3:36]
11. Song of the Hen’s head [4:38]
Leo DELIBES (1836 – 1891)
12. Bell song [7:58]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858 – 1924)
13. O mio babbino caro [2:35]
Richard STRAUSS (1864 – 1949)
14. Morgen [3:51]
Michel LEGRAND (b. 1932)/Arr Björn KLEIMAN (b. 1978)
15. Papa, can you hear me? [6:30]