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Inspiration finnes deri
Elfrida ANDRÉE (1841-1929)
String Quartet (1861) [25:18]
Knut HÅKANSON (1887-1929)
Sag, ska vi springa till Gömmeriland (1926) [1:24]
För Barn och Barnbarn 12 visor Op. 28 (1925-26) [12:00]
Marbolåtar (1922), i urval, violin och piano [7:27]
Fem Frida-visor Op.42 (1929)
Klarkvartetten (Dieter Schöning (violin), Viveka Rydén Mårtensson (violin), Johanna Fridolfsson (viola), Lena Bergström (cello))
Mats Persson (baritone), Solveig Wikman (piano), Dieter Schöning (violin Op. 42)
No recording details given.
Sung texts not downloadable but see comment in review
ALTFIOL I VÄST AIVCD008 [69:33]

A disc of Swedish music is nothing new, but Knut Håkanson is a composer I personally have never come across, while Elfrida Andrée an important and trailblazing female composer and organist.

The disc opens with the student String Quartet of Elfrida Andrée. It was composed when she was 20 years old and, according to a hand-written note on the back of the score, it was never to be printed. This Quartet is not to be confused with the more widely known D minor Quartet composed some six years later and recorded by the Stockholmskvartetten on an excellent Caprice disc (CAP 21530). Here we have a composer who is striving for maturity in her music and who, at the end of her studies with Ludvig Norman, produced a work that heralded her future position as Sweden’s first female composer of note. This Quartet is in A Major and contains a rather nice third movement Intermezzo which, despite another hand-written note by the composer on the reverse of the manuscript, is anything but “Boring”. This note refers to the premiere performance, in which Andrée played second violin. Perhaps this judgement was due to the work being less individualistic than her second attempt in the genre. However, it is an interesting work, one which was eventually published in 2002 and which, I think I am correct in saying, receives its premiere recording here.

The name, never mind the music, of Knut Håkanson is new to me. Altfiol are something of a champion of his music, having already released a previous disc of his work (AIVCD006). This present disc offers the listener a selection of charming children’s songs, short folk inspired pieces for violin and piano and the more important song cycle, Fem Frida-visor. None of these works appear in the inventory of the composer’s collected works held and mentioned on the website by Swedish Musical Heritage, which I imagine points to them being the fruits of more recent research. The För Barn och Barnbarn, or 12 Songs for Children and Grandchildren are charming in their simplicity, with Sweet Cow, Little Cow telling the story of two troll children steeling milk. It is songs like this that illustrate Knut Håkanson’s interest in folk music, and this is also seen in his Marbolåtar from three years earlier, a series of seven short pieces for violin and piano. These pieces are, to me, reminiscent of Edvard Grieg’s use of the folk idiom, and in particular Slåtter, and the influence of the Hardanger fiddle. Fem Frida-visor,, or Frida’s Songs – Second Book is a much more detailed and important set, with the addition of the violin lending a new dimension to the music. You only have to listen to the opening of the set to identify the progression in Håkanson’s development as a composer of songs.

The performances are very good indeed, The Klarkvartetten are excellent in the Andrée, whilst their leader adds a distinctive timbre to the later Håkanson songs. Mats Persson displays the full range of his voice from the childlike to the deeply emotional and Solveig Wikman, whose recordings of Fanny Mendelssohn I have enjoyed and reviewed in the past, proves an excellent accompanist. The disc is blessed with good notes, although the promised song texts in English on the website, have proved elusive.

This is an interesting and enjoyable disc, one which has only served to wet my appetite to learn more about Knut Håkanson. It is a shame, therefore, that the other disc of his music mentioned above only seems to be available as a download at the moment, and since I prefer the physical article I will have to look into acquiring it from a different source than usual.

Stuart Sillitoe




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