Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


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Lars-Erik LARSSON (1908-1986)
God in Disguise (Förklädd Gud) Op. 24 (1940) [29.12]
A Winter's Tale (En vintersaga) - four vignettes to Shakespeare's play Op. 18 (1937) [9.53]
Little Serenade (Liten serenad) Op. 12 (1934) [10.34]
Pastoral Suite (Pastoralsvit) Op. 19 (1938) [13.30]
Sven Wollter (narrator)
Jeanette Kohn (sop)
Thomas Lander (bar)
Jönköping Chamber Choir
Jönköping Sinfonietta/Christopher Warren-Green
rec. Dec 2001, Feb 2002, Jönköpings konserthuset, Sweden. DDD
INTIM MUSIK IMCD 082 [63.00]


Larsson's contented pastoral muse is well represented here. This Intim-Musik collection might honestly have been badged as 'The Best of Larsson' by a less tasteful company.

There have been more than few recordings of God in Disguise (Förklädd Gud) including long-established entries from Bis and Swedish Society Discofil. This is the first one where the narration is in any language other than the native Swedish; the premier recording of the work to be spoken and sung entirely in English. The translation is by the English composer John Hearne.

The narration here is done with stilly awe by Sven Wollter. While the Grecian classical scene is the same as that of Bantock's Cyprian Goddess, Nielsen's Pan and Echo, Ravel's Daphnis, Peterson-Berger's Second Symphony and Bax's Spring Fire Larsson has his own confident and modern voice. The piping (and there is plenty of soloistic hay to be made by the woodwind) is clear and clean. The magically reverent kindliness of the narrative is delivered in tracks separate from the music; Wollter is not called on to speak over the orchestra. That spoken role has about it more of Vaughan Williams' and Arnold's ‘Scholar Gypsy’ (An Oxford Elegy) than Arthur Bliss's heaven assailing actOR-narrator (Morning Heroes).

The Larsson work represents a playfully bemused Scandinavian 'spin' on the Grecian classic idyll. The music's mood is a Swedish counterpart to that of the underestimated British composer Geoffrey Bush - a light dusting of awe over the honest beauty of the countryside. John Ireland looked for the secret gods of pre-Roman Britain while Larsson bridges Swedish summer scenes to Mediterranean idylls on the Grecian greensward. There is nothing ill to come near thee in this series of musical tableaux. The first of the ten movements has a theme that glances knowingly towards Wagner's Siegfried Idyll and it is that graceful theme that casts its prayerful radiance through the last pages of the work - full circle.

A Winter's Tale derives from a 1938 Swedish Radio broadcast of the Shakespeare play. Its four movements were selected from the 24 numbers written by the composer for that adaptation. The first combines intimations of Grieg's Morning and a Mediterranean Daphnis. The Intermezzo chaffs cheerily away like a rather scathing Sibelius. The Pastoral: has the jollity of the King Christian II music and of Sibelius 3. The Epilogue is a real treasure including a great curve of a romantic theme full of dignity and tenderness.

The Little Serenade has another chattering allegro as well as a prayerful and submissive adagio cantabile. The bucolic allegro vivace has apple liqueur wafting through the orchard. This work could comfortably be mated with the Wirén and with the lighter suites of Sibelius like Rakastava, Champêtre and Mignonne.

The Pastoral Suite had its origins in another work; this time for narrator and orchestra. Poems were interspersed with musical movements in Times of Day. The suite is in three movements with the confident rush of the overture preceded by some tentative invocatory gestures. Its rush and tumble, it smiles and charms are a sort of marriage of Reznicek's Donna Diana and Sibelius 3. The Romance looks to the hesitant hints in the foreword to the overture and develops them mellifluously and with unsullied nostalgia. The flighty Scherzo looks to Sibelius 6, vital with birdsong and lithe with echoes of the avian chorus from Sibelius's Nightride and Sunrise.

The playing and recording quality encapsulate the innocence, warmth and nostalgic sentiment of this music. Good to see the name of Christopher Warren-Green again after all this time.

This disc joins Intim’s collection of the Larsson concertinos.

This is confident feel-good music not afflicted with blandness or facile emotion. It pretty much sweeps the board in Larsson collections - especially for non-Swedish speakers.

Rob Barnett



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