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From Queen of the Night to Elektra
Laila Andersson-Palme (soprano)
rec. 1970-88 STERLING CDA1806/07-2 [79:39 + 79:40]
Soprano Laila Andersson-Palme was a mainstay at the Stockholm Royal Opera for 32 years. During those years she appeared in about 100 different roles, including those she sang as international guest for many years. I saw and heard her on many occasions in a wide variety of roles, actually ‘From Queen of the Night to Elektra’ – the title of this twofer – and remember particularly her sensational Lulu in Alban Berg’s opera and a late Tosca in the 1990s when she was still in mint condition. Of the four roles mentioned only Lulu is missing from this compilation, which is a pity since she was so superb, and it was also that role that made her internationally known and opened the doors to many houses around Europe and the US.
She was an early starter and was accepted at The University College of Music in Stockholm before she had even turned 20. She sang comprimario roles during her student years and made a highly praised debut as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro. Gradually she developed towards more dramatic roles and this set allows us to follow her from the age of 23 in concert recordings with Stockholms Studentsångare (The Academic Male Choir in Stockholm) and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Glitteringly youthful she is in the songs with choir, and the same freshness is also tangible in the songs by Stenhammar and Rangström with orchestra – songs that are staples in the Swedish romance tradition. Flickan kom ifrån sin älsklings möte is perhaps better known in Sibelius’s setting but Stenhammar’s version has a lot to recommend it as well. The rest of the songs except one are settings of Bo Bergman, whose poetry is well suited to set to music. The exception is Villemo to a text by August Strindberg, who was a strong source of inspiration for Rangström. His opera Kronbruden (The Crown Bride) is a straight setting of Strindberg’s play.
There are no recording dates given for the six Richard Strauss songs with the eminent Jan Eyron at the piano, but probably they are somewhat later. Hat gesagt … is lively and flexible and there is excellent rapport with the pianist. In Morgen Eyron plays wonderfully and Laila Andersson’s pianissimo singing is lovely.
More Strauss follows, but now we jump more than twenty years in time to 1988 and the terzett from Der Rosenkavalier. Her Feldmarschallin is marvellous and she has great singers as Octavian and Sophie: Sylvia Lindenstrand and Britt-Marie Aruhn, whom I also heard many times, and in the pit is Laila Andersson’s favourite conductor Sixten Ehrling.
We get both of The Queen of the Night’s arias from Die Zauberflöte, recorded at about the same time as I heard her in the role. The fearful coloratura sits with pinpoint exactitude. At that time I also heard her at the Drottningholm Court Theatre in period sets and costumes of baroque operas. I didn’t see this particular Handel opera, though. Her Butterfly is sung with dramatic conviction and in particular the final aria is deeply touching. All these opera excerpts, bar the Handel, are sung in Swedish.
CD 2 opens with a superb Vissi d’arte from Tosca. Here, as in the following Sleepwalking scene from Macbeth, the orchestra is conducted by Carlo Felice Cillario, who was chief conductor in Stockholm for several years. Elektra’s monologue was recorded at her very last appearance at the Royal Opera in May 1996, and it is a remarkably consistent voice we hear after 32 years! The Salome excerpt was recorded a dozen years earlier in Berlin and the sound is mono but the singing is magnificent. The half-hour-long second half of the third act of Die Walküre is undated, but Laila Andersson’s singing is great and beautiful and Danish baritone Leif Roar is a light-voiced Wotan – but very good!
Finally we are treated to Marie’s arias from Wozzeck, sung in Swedish but just as impressive as I remember it from the performance I saw. Then, as on this recording, it was the young Esa-Pekka Salonen who conducted. He was then at the beginning of his international career, but there is no doubting his commitment to Alban Berg’s score and he has always been a champion of modern and contemporary music.
The target group for this issue should primarily be those who experienced Laila Andersson-Palme in the opera house, whether it be the Royal Stockholm Opera or any of the international houses where she was a welcome guest for many years. Sterling and Bo Hyttner definitely deserve an armful of roses for releasing this full-length portrait of one of the great Swedish singers of the last few decades.
CD 1 [79:39] Trad
1. Fjorton år tror jag visst att jag var (Fourteen years I think certainly I was) [2:50] Edvard GRIEG (1843 – 1907)
2. Våren (The Spring) [4:58] Guy d’HARDELOT (1858 – 1936)
3. Lorsque j’entends ton pas (because) [2:43]
1-3 Stockholms Studentsångare/Einar Ralf (Stockholms konserthus 1964) mono Wilhelm STENHAMMAR (1871 – 1927)
4. Flickan kom ifrån sin älsklings möte (A girl came from a meeting with her lover) [4:27]
5. Flickan knyter i Johannenatten (The girl on St. John’s night) [1:44] Ture RANGSTRÖM (1884 – 1947)
6. Vinden och träden (The wind and the tree) [1:45]
7. Flickan under nymånen (The girl beneath the new moon) [2:22]
8. Villemo [1:37]
9. En gammal dansrytm (An old dance-rhythm) [1:44]
4-9 Sveriges Radios Symfoniorkester/Stig Westerberg (Stockholms konserthus 1964) mono Richard STRAUSS (1864 – 1949)
10. Meinem Kinde (To my child) [2:58]
11. Die Nacht (The Night) [3:11]
12. Hat gesagt – bleibt’s nicht dabei (He has said – but it won’t stop at that [2:04]
13. Für fünfzehn Pfennige (For fifteen cents) [2:22]
14. Morgen (And tomorrow the sun will shine again) [4:18]
15. Glückes genug (When you slept softly in my arms) [3:05]
10-15 Jan Eyron (piano) mono Richard STRAUSS
Der Rosenkavalier: terzett (sung in Swedish) [14:45]
Sylvia Lindenstrand (Octavian), Britt-Marie Aruhn (Sophie), Kungliga Hovkapellet/Sixten Ehrling (29 March 1988) Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791)
17. O zittre nicht [5:02]
18. Der Hölle Rache [3:10]
17-18 Kungliga Hovkapellet/Sergiu Commisiona (20 November 1971) sung in Swedish George Frideric HANDEL (1685 – 1759)
19. Il Pastor Fido: Scherza in mar la navicella (Amaryllis’ aria [5:10]
Kungliga Hovkapellet/Charles Farncombe (Drottningholm 5 June 1971) Giacomo PUCCINI (1858 – 1924)
20. Un bel di vedremo [4:13]
21. Tu, tu piccolo Iddio [4:42]
20-21 Kungliga Hovkapellet/Kurt Bendix (29 January 1970) mono
CD 2 [79:40] Giacomo PUCCINI
1. Vissi d’arte [3:50]
Kungliga Hovkapellet/Carlo Felice Cillario (20 September 1984) Giuseppe VERDI (1813 – 1901)
2. Sleepwalker scene [7:00]
Kungliga Hovkapellet/Carlo Felice Cillario (22 January 1982) sung in Swedish Richard STRAUSS
3. Elektra’s monologue [9:30]
Kungliga Hovkapellet/Siegfried Köhler (4 May 1996)
4. Salome’s monologue [16:50]
Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper, Berlin/Heinrich Hollreiser (27 February 1984) mono Richard WAGNER (1813 – 1883)
Act 3, Finale
5. Wa res so schmälich?
6. So tatest du
7. Wohl taugte dir nicht
8. Nicht streb, O Maid, den Mut mir zu stören
9. Der Augen leuchtenes Paar
10. Loge hör! Lausche hierher! [32:30]
Leif Roar (Wotan), Orchestra oft he Aarhus Opera/Francesco Cristofoli Alban BERG (1885 – 1935)
11. Marie’s aria act 1 [5:10]
12. Marie’s aria act 3 [4:43]
Kungliga Hovkapellet/Esa-Pekka Salonen (9 November 1984)