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Carl Jonas Love ALMQVIST (1799-1866)
Love Almqvist [8:19]
Marie Louise [2:50]
Ludvig Carl Wilhelm [6:02]
Min mors minne [3:15]
Afsked till min Fader [5:28]
Vendelas mörka locker [2:35]
Richard Furumo [8:52]
Nyniannes röst [1:19]
Det doftar i Skogen [3:15]
Ifrån Leonard [2:28]
Hjertats Bön [6:08]
Gurrhanas Dans [1:48]
En Pingstmorgon [3:01]
Zingari-Fest [4:09]
La Caraffa [4:26]
Niakuns Polska [1:02]
Nicoline [4:14]
Cecilias Fråga [5:23]
Lennart Hedwall (fortepiano)
rec. Musikmuseet, Sweden, May and December 1982, Studio 2, Swedish Radio, Sweden, May 1985, Studio 3, Swedish Radio, Sweden, June 1993, Some tracks previously released on Bluebell (BELL 156, 161).
STERLING CDA1808-2 [74:45]

Carl Jonas Love Almqvist holds a special place in Swedish Romanticism. He was not only a composer but also a poet, writer, traveller and social critic, someone who spoke out for the poor and the unrepresented, and championed the rights of women. His music is little represented in the catalogues just a couple of discs offering the listener some vocal and piano music, as well as an odd track on a couple of other discs. This is, however, representative of his music. He mainly composed piano pieces, songs and choral works.

This disc is a collection of recordings originally released by Bluebell, taken from broadcasts by Swedish Radio. It represents the most complete collection of the composer’s piano pieces. Described as Free Fantasies for Piano-Forte, they include musical portraits of himself as well as family members and friends, and pieces inspired by events and his surroundings. It is, then, almost an autobiography in music.

The first piece in the 1847 edition saw the composer open with Marie Louise, a portrait of his daughter; it is representative of the collection as a whole. These small tone pictures are deeply rooted in the early-Romantic style of the day, something Almqvist probably heard on his many travels, and combined into his own music. There are pieces reminiscent of Weber, whilst others show the influence of Beethoven or Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words. Indeed, it is easy to imagine these pieces as sung melodies—they are very song-like. Almqvist’s music could be described as somewhat limited. There is nothing here that made me sit up and think. Rather, this is a collection of miniatures that would fit well into any concert of parlour or salon music of the period, characterful but not enlightening, yet interesting nonetheless.

Lennart Hedwall is an excellent interpreter of this music, although his choice of pianos, both by Johan Söderberg, might lead some to the off switch. The sound and buzz of early fortepianos, from 1806 and 1813, is far from the sound of a modern piano. I quite like the sound, as I feel it fits well with the music. It gives the recording the feel of a contemporary performance, one which the composer could have performed himself. Hedwall has also written the extensive notes for this release, translated into English from the original Swedish. The notes are very informative about the man and his music, giving each piece the perspective of the performer and musicologist.

Stuart Sillitoe


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