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To Cecilia - Swedish Love Songs
Torsten Mossberg (tenor)
Stina Hellberg Agback (harp)
Jonas Isaksson (guitar)
Anders Karlqvist (piano)
rec. 2017, Nannaskolan’s Auditorium, Uppsala; Fåfängan, Beatelunds gård, Ingarö, Sweden
Sung texts with English translations enclosed
STERLING CDA1818-2 [63:48]

Torsten Mossberg has issued several discs with Swedish songs before, two of which I have reviewed quite recently (review ~ review). Recorded as recently as last year the present disc reveals none of the signs of tear and wear I detected in the previous latest offering, set down in 2012. This may be due to the repertoire being vocally less taxing, much of it belonging to the genre called “visa” in Swedish, corresponding roughly to the French “chanson” or the English “ballad”. Many of the songs here are well-known to general music lovers in Sweden, Evert Taube, for instance, whose “visor” were so often heard by several generations of Swedes that a majority of them knew the texts by heart. A popular saying at some time was that only two persons didn’t know them: His Majesty the King and Evert Taube himself! Mossberg also, as in some of the previous discs, chooses seldom or never heard songs by well-known poets or composers. On the CD “You Held Me Dear” he sings Carl Leopold Sjöberg’s Tonerna, which the whole world knows through Jussi Björling’s recordings, but he also sings a handful of other songs by the composer, in fact all the songs he ever published, and they must be unknown to most music lovers. On the present disc he sings no fewer than nine songs by Hjalmar Casserman, for many years the personal physician of Swedish kings Gustaf V and Gustav VI Adolf. The first of them, Beatrice Aurore, is also known to every Swede of some age; the rest is not and it is nice to have them documented. Most of them are quite simple and unassuming, but they are attractive even so and several are settings of prominent poets. Violetta tulpaner (Violet tulips) (tr. 5) is really beautiful. The text incidentally is by Prince Wilhelm, son to King Gustaf V and younger brother to King Gustav VI Adolf. Unfortunately the reading of Beatrice Aurore is the least attractive of the nine, rather four-square and plodding.

Exactly why Richard Strauss’s Morgen is included in this collection of Swedish Love Songs is not explained. It is a love song, it is popular but not particularly Swedish. The presence of Leo Ferré’s Elle tourne la terre (tr. 20) is more understandable, since Lars Forssell’s Swedish version became very popular as early as 1957 when Olle Adolphson recorded it. Both these foreign birds are excellently performed and the Ferré song is sung with deep insight. I am very fond of his Taube songs, several of them personal favourites since long. Så skimrande var aldrig havet, tender-hearted and simple, Som stjärnor små, well nuanced but too swift for my taste and rather rigid, Min älskling, stressing the tango rhythm (Taube lived in his youth in Argentina and assimilated the music of South America), the seldom heard Kärleken och vinden, movingly sung, and Maj på Malö, really charming.

Hugo Alfvén, internationally best known for his symphonic music, was also a fine composer of songs and Saa tag mit hjerte, a setting of a poem by the Danish poet Tove Ditlevsen, composed as late as 1946 when he was in his mid-70s, is one of his finest.

The popular poet Nils Ferlin (1898 – 1961), wrote poems that more or less cried out for being set to music. Lille Bror Söderlundh (Mossberg recorded an all-Söderlundh CD some years ago), Torgny Björk and Gunnar Turesson – three of the most prominent composers of “visor” were all deeply inspired by his words, just as Monica Dominique drew her inspiration from Lars Forssell highly personal texts. Tillägnan has become a classic. Rolf Fogelström was a personal friend of Torsten Mossberg and the two waltzes, originally accordion music for dancing, were given texts by Mossberg as an homage to his older friend. A present-day favourite in Sweden is Koppången, recorded by so differing musicians as trombonist Lars Karlin and mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter. The title is the name of a wetland area in the province of Dalecarlia.

The concluding song, När du sluter mina ögon from Hjärtats sånger (Songs of the heart) (1942) is one of the gems of Swedish art songs. The accompaniments are worth an extra paragraph: discrete arrangements for harp, guitar and piano in various combinations. Everything is so tasteful and this also includes Mossberg himself. Never an interventionist performer he presents the music without a lot of fuss, simple, natural.

The target group of this issue is of course Swedish listeners in the first place, but many of the melodies should also have an appeal to an international public, and with English translations of the texts the disc should be accessible also from a textual point of view.

Göran Forsling

Hjalmar CASSERMAN (1891 – 1967)
1. Beatrice Aurore [1:44]
2. Mest älskar jag att se dig gå [1:27]
3. Madame är mycket fin [1:15]
4. Stjärna i natten [1:33]
5. Violetta tulpaner [2:02]
6. Visa [1:23]
7. Det var en slump att vi fick träffas åter [1:32]
8. Utanför blomsterhandeln [0:49]
9. Händerna [2:48]
Richard STRAUSS (1864 – 1949)
10. Morgen [3:06]
Evert TAUBE (1890 – 1976)
11. Så skimrande var aldrig havet [2:49]
12. Som stjärnor små [1:31]
13. Min älskling [2:27]
14. Kärleken och vinden [7:05]
15. Maj på Malö [4:23]
Hugo ALFVÉN (1872 – 1960)
16. Saa tag mit Hjerte [2:45]
Lille Bror SÖDERLUNDH (1912 – 1957)
17. Får jag lämna några blommor [2:20]
Torgny BJÖRK (b. 1938)
18. I folkviseton [1:49]
Gunnar TURESSON (1906 – 2001)
19. Höstmelodi [2:20]
Leo FERRÉ (1916 – 1993)
20. Snurra min jord [3:57]
Monica DOMINIQUE (b. 1940)
21. Tillägnan [2:44]
Rolf FOGELSTRÖM (1912 – 1992)
22. Vals på Bybacka [2:44]
23. Svea-Olles vals [2:15]
Pererik MORAEUS (b. 1950)
24. Koppången [3:38]
Gunnar de FRUMERIE (1908 – 1987)
25. När du sluter mina ögon [2:22]



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