Presented on this CD are a number of works for voice and piano by younger Swedish composers of the late 20th century. Does it reflect a newly aroused interest in the art of the lied, triggered perhaps by a post-modernist emancipation? Does it perhaps exemplify ways of using the intimate format without being weighed down by it or deliberately harking back to tradition? It is surely symptomatic that all three of the composers involved have devoted themselves to the writing of opera, while at the same time feeling a need to express themselves in a more intimate format. One thing is perfectly clear: renewal depends among other things on the existence of artists who are ready to test new forms, both in a purely musical sense and in terms of performance.
Olle Persson (b. 1958) is one such artist. Following studies at the Royal University College of Music in Stockholm and, later, under Rudolf Piernay in London, he has made a name for himself as a versatile singer commanding a multiplicity of genres. He has performed on big operatic stages in Sweden, such as the Royal Stockholm Opera, the Drottningholm Court Theatre and the Gothenburg Opera. Internationally he has appeared, for example, at the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York.
Matti Hirvonen (b 1958) is well known both as a soloist and as a chamber musician and, not least, as a discerning lieder interpreter in close empathy with our foremost singers. A pupil of Greta Erikson's, he studied lieder interpretation under Geoffrey Parsons in London. His solo recording credits include a CD of piano music by Schubert and, newly released under the Daphne Records label, Pulse, featuring new Swedish piano music.
Music by Jonas Forssell, Hans Gefors and Kjell Perder with poems by i. a. Lars Forssell, PĂ¤r Lagerkvist, Elmer Diktonius, Gunnar BjĂ¶rling and C H Morgenstern.
Jonas Forssell (b. 1957):
1. Spegelen /Lars Forssell * [2.57]
Hans Gefors (b. 1952):
2. KĂ¤ra Jord /Elmer Diktonius ** [2.08]
Jonas Forssell: Ur "Tolv variationer till minne av W.B. Yeats"
/Lars Forssell ***
3. 1. PĂĄsk 1968 [1.58]
4. 2. Ă„lskandes klagan [3.32]
5. 3. Tiden och en flicka [5.37]
Hans Gefors: "SĂĄnger om glĂ¤dje /PĂ¤r Lagerkvist **
6. 1. Var Ă¤r den djupa glĂ¤dje [3.06]
7. 2. Det Ĺ r vackrast nĂ¤r det skymmer [2.40]
8. 3. Solig stig [1.33]
9. Vaggvisa till Maria
/Lars Forssell ** [1.54]
10. Var jag fullkomlig
/Gunnar BjĂ¶rling ** [2.52]
11. Med en fĂĄgel pĂĄ sitt huvud /Anders Hasselgren * [1.31]
Jonas Forssell: Ur "Prinsessan och MĂĄnen"
/H.C. Morgenstern *
/Sv. tolkn. L.G HellstrĂ¶m [0.27]
/Sv. tolkn. L.G. HellstrĂ¶m [1.47]
/Sv. tolkn. Lars Forssell [1.32]
/Sv. tolkn. L.G. HelstrĂ¶m [3.20]
Kjell Perder (b. 1954):
"Canto Erotico" /Kjell Perder **
16. 1. Clarinetto [5.12]
17. 2. Campane tubolari [3.07]
18. 3. Viola [3.27]
19. 4. Corno inglese [3.15]
20. 5. Violincello [1.41]
21. 6. Trombone [2.08]
22. 7. Celesta [2.43]
A new recording, by dependable, all-round artists, comes as further confirmation that lieder-writing in Sweden today, if not exactly vigorous, does at all events continue to develop.
With an idiom ranging from the quizzical grotesqueries and cabaret-like espressivo of a Lars Forssell or a Morgenstern, to the contemplative acuity of a PĂ¤r Lagerkvist.
Olle Persson and Matti Hirvonen have put together a programme which, after alternating between settings by Jonas Forssell and Hans Gefors, concludes with Kjell Perderâ€™s amatory Canto Erotico to his own words. Although several of the songs â€“ Geforsâ€™ musically close-knit and reflective settings in particular â€“ are profoundly moving, many of them have difficulty in reaching beyond the somewhat private, theatrical sphere.
Consequently this recording proves to be mainly a document of Perssonâ€™s declamatory register, exemplary diction and mastery of musical structure. Here one finds both empathetic reflection and passionate identification, in an outpouring made impressive not least by Hirvonenâ€™s responsive support and clarity of touch.
Jan Kask - http://www.svd.se
This is a recital of Swedish songs by composers all of whom were writing in the 1980s and 1990s and before you move on to another review let me say immediately that this a very remarkable recital by a remarkable singer.
One thing that I always need and look for in a professional singer in whose company I will spend an hour or so are:-
a) a quality voice I want to hear and to enjoy
b) a singer with the ability to colour the text.
c) a care for the words and a good diction
d) a singer who is technically on top of what the composer requires
e) a singer who is emotionally ready to sing the chosen repertoire.
Now you may chose others in addition to these or none of them for that matter, but for this reviewer Olle Persson succeeds in all of these requirements, so necessary for these particular songs.
The very helpful booklet notes by Bengt Johnsson begin "The early years of the 20th Century were a flourishing period of lied in Sweden â€¦. But during the second half of the century, by contrast, the lied languished and one is tempted to say that the genre was almost on the verge of extinction. Presented on this CD are works for by younger Swedish composers â€¦ (who show) a newly aroused interest in the art of the lied, triggered perhaps by post-modernist emancipation." He adds, and in the light of my comment about the performances this is important, "renewal depends on the existence of artists who are ready to test new forms, both in a purely musical sense and in terms of performance." This is the significance of this new release - original and thought-provoking compositions, brilliantly presented to the highest possible standards.
Let me present the composers; Jonas Forssell. He is a player of all woodwind instruments with a strong interest in Jazz and in the theatre. Kjeel Perder studied with, amongst others, Brian Ferneyhough and John Lambert and has written music in every genre. Hans Gefors studied in Denmark with Per Norgard. He is professor of music at Malmo University.
These composers are therefore going to create a wide variety of styles and delivery and it is to the challenge of this variety that Olle Persson rises. For example in the opening song Spegelen' (The Mirror) by Forssell we are in a cabaret Ă la Kurt Weill with Persson putting on various voices: over a waltz-type accompaniment old men are arguing in a heated conversation. The second song 'Kara jord' (Dear Earth) by Gefors, is a gentle song, Persson is double tracked to create a canon at the end of phrases. This piece is rather folksy or mediaeval using the 14th Century Landini cadence. The next song is a Swedish memorial to Yeats', Easter 1968 by Forssell. The words are by his father Lars. Persson delivers in a strong aggressive baritone accompanied by one note in the bass of a prepared piano, making an very percussive unpitched drum noise. The vocal style is a mixture of some pitches: sprechtstimme, parlando and some shouts. It would be interesting to see the score. This is the first of a cycle, or as the CD translates, suite, of three songs in which the piano is prepared Ă la John Cage. The middle song, 'Alskandes klagen' (Lovers Lament) finds Persson using falsetto, and groans to portray the erotic text. Forssell returns to a light style in four songs entitled 'Ur Prinsessan'. These also have parts for percussion, for instance the third one for drum, bells and solo violin played by Bernt Lysell. These songs tend to favour triple time and a cabaret style. Persson here has to use his very lowest register at times.
The songs by Perder set seven of his own very erotic poems, these have titles such as clarinetto, viola, trombone. This latter begins with the text " Slow breaths sustained glissandi we breathe more heavily but togetherâ€¦" I could go on, because most of the songs seem to require a different vocal technique and many original ideas. However this would be to deny you a real sense of discovery. As for the poets there is Lors Forsall, Elmer Diktonius, Par Lagerkvist and Gunnar Bjorling all of who are contemporary and who work regularly with these composers. Their verse is as remarkable and imaginative as the music and wonderfully and vividly translated by Roger Tanner.
I cannot speak too highly of the whole enterprise. Don't let this be a CD that slips you by.
Gary Higginson - http://www.musicweb.uk.net/
I had never expected the experience I was headed for when I span this succession of binary bits of information through the laser box! This release incorporates operatic as well as sound poetic events with romantic Lieder and regular EkelĂ¶fian â€śstrountesâ€ť, in a happy-go-lucky creativity and a fingertip sensuality and feel for the materialâ€™s inherent possibilities that bring to life each and every miniscule emotion of the text, whirling up like the dust of a gravel road in a sudden gust of wind before the thunder in July. Splendid! Surprising!
This Swedish CD â€“ with Swedish texts (sometimes Swedish interpretations of foreign texts and a few examples of Finnish-Swedish poetry: BjĂ¶rling, Diktonius) â€“ brings the art of Lieder and romance quantum leaps into the future.
The impression is sometimes perversely expressive, utilizing every shade of vocal attribution in the performance. The air in this world of Olle Perssonâ€™s baritone voice and Matti Hirvonenâ€™s piano is lofty and fresh with a sense of freedom, wherein you can take deep breaths and walk long distances in a mood of frivolity mixed with the earnest seriousness; humor and wit with a backdrop of the dark forces of life.
The piano accompanies the voice, the voice guides the piano â€“ or is it the other way around? There is a perfect match here; these guys must know each other very very well. This CD is a dual achievement to be taken in by the whole quality-oriented audience â€“ and maybe it is a pity that all the songs are in Swedish. However, the well-equipped booklet carries all the texts in English and German too, so maybe the Swedish scent just heightens the experience for the international listeners.
The change of style â€“ happening all over the place â€“ is refreshing. The interpretational sensitivity is stunning. The shifts of mood are complete and moving. You are thrown from jolly quirks to introspective gloom, from frail weaknesses to sturdy, brisk strength!
The composers of the settings of these poems are fairly young, as you can see from the facts supplied above. This, then, must be considered a revival and a renewal of the art of Lieder, of romance. I hear, in the back of my mind, the bass Alexander Kipnis singing Schubertâ€™s â€śErlkĂ¶nigâ€ť and I hear Hans Hotter performing â€śWinterreiseâ€ť. Those are priceless treasures, but without a renewal of this art, the solo song setting of poetry is headed for oblivion. These young composers and interpreters, presented on a high quality release from Daphne Records, show, though, that we need not fear. The revival is here! This is a brilliant example of how a revitalization of a tradition should be done! Congratulations!
All three composers â€“ Jonas Forssell, Hans Gefors and Kjell Perder â€“ have occupied themselves with opera, feeling now the need and lust for more intimate circumstances. Jonas Forssell is the son of the famous Swedish poet and enfant terrible Lars Forssell (b.1928), and five of the texts that Jonas Forssell brings to the CD media are harvested from his fatherâ€™s rich oeuvre.
One of the composers â€“ Kjell Perder â€“ is also the author of the poems of his composition; â€śCanto Eroticoâ€ť, from which seven texts are drawn. They are passionate love poems, dedicated to instruments, like the clarinet and the viola, but the texts are so ambiguous, with a delicacy of touch, that each new instrument just seems to represent another beautiful lady, or a different aspect of the same wonderful beingâ€¦
A particularly happy recurrence are the four poems by Christian Morgenstern, who, I think, was the first writer I discovered who pushed me in the direction of lettrism, sound poetry and text-sound; very liberating for a young and too serious student of literature! Jonas Forssell is the one who brings Morgenstern aboard, and even though we donâ€™t get to hear my favorite; â€śFisches Nachtgesang (The deepest German poem)â€ť (1905), we still are treated to â€śThe Cloud Lambâ€ť â€“ and thatâ€™s not bad either!