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Bo LINDE (1933–1970)
Annas sagor op. 2/Anna’s Tales Op. 2 (1952) [19:17]
Lars-Erik LARSSON (1908–1986)
Ur Nio sånger op. 35/From Nine Songs Op. 35 (1946) [7:22]
Ur Åtta sånger op. 52/From Eight Songs Op. 52 (1964) [7:09]
Bo LINDE
Fjorton sånger om våren op 40/Fourteen Songs of Spring Op. 40 (1969) [21:02]
Lars-Erik LARSSON
Ur Tolv visor/From Twelve Songs (1955) [0:48]
Bo LINDE
Ur/From Sommarlov op. 34 [1:04]
Lisa Gustafsson (soprano), Mårten Landström (piano)
rec. Studio Acusticum, Piteå, January 2009
Sung texts with English translations are enclosed
STERLING CDA1679-2 [56:42]

The juxtaposition of Lars-Erik Larsson and Bo Linde is a logical one. Linde studied with Larsson at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm from the tender age of 15. He also had a disposition for communication and took exception to the prevailing trend of modernism in the post-war era. Prokofiev and later Britten became his sources of inspiration when his trendier generation colleagues had a passion for Boulez, Maderna and Stockhausen. This resulted in his alienation from the mainstream of the day and he came to be regarded as an outsider. This was accentuated by the fact that he settled in his birthplace Gävle, a provincial town some 200 kilometres north of Stockholm. He became a central figure in the musical life there, both as music critic and composer but for the rest of Sweden he remained an outsider. It is typical that when he passed away, aged 37, none of his music had yet been issued on record, although an EP with some of his songs, accompanied by himself, had been set down and issued. Linde wrote a number of orchestral works for the local orchestra, today Gävle Symphony Orchestra, which is well represented on records also internationally. His violin concerto has been recorded at least twice and quite a lot of his fairly vast production of chamber music is also available. A considerable part of his total oeuvre comprises his songs for voice and piano, no fewer than 127. That they are fairly seldom performed has less to do with the quality of the music and the poems than the technical challenges: difficult keys, demanding pitches. Some of them have been recorded, the most comprehensive issue is a Proprius disc with Margareta Jonth and Carl Rune Larsson made in the early 1980s.

The early Anna’s Tales Op. 2, a cycle of 12 songs, is the work of a 19-year-old composer and is quite remarkable. The texts are from a little collection of poems by Ernst Josephson, Black and Yellow Roses. Josephson was a highly regarded Swedish 19th century painter who became a pioneer of expressionism in Scandinavia. He was also a poet and perhaps his most well-known poem is Svarta rosor (Black Roses), famously set to music by Sibelius. Most of his poetry was written after 1888, when he became mentally ill, diagnosed with schizophrenia, and spent the rest of his life in an asylum. Anna’s Tales are very strange, bordering on absurdist, and Linde’s music accordingly unconventional. They are irregular, largely tonal but odd and melodically fragmentary. The piano part is expressive (Linde was an excellent pianist) and just as important as the vocal line. ‘Weird’ my American friends would probably say. True, they are weird but at the same time fascinating.

Fourteen Songs of Spring Op. 40 is probably easier to digest at a first hearing. The majority of the songs were composed as a commission from Rikskonserter (Institute for National Concerts) and premiered at the international Siljan Music Festival in 1969. Four earlier songs – from Eight Songs (1955) – were added and together they form a kind of Dichterliebe. The four additions are: IV. Äppelträd och päronträd; VII. Den ängen där du kysste mig; X. För alla vindar; XIII. Prinsessan juni. These four could be ideal starting points for exploration of Linde’s vocal music. No. IV and No. VII have been recorded before but it is good to have all fourteen collected in such attractive readings. The earliest songs are almost folk-song like and immediately accessible, but all fourteen will yield after a couple of listening rounds. The technical problems mentioned earlier are more related to the performers than to the listeners. The high tessitura in several of them is truly challenging but Lisa Gustafsson has the measure of them with her bright clear voice and easy top.

Lars-Erik Larsson became a household name in Sweden in the 1930s with several works in a neo-classical-cum-romantic idiom. His Pastoral Suite has remained a standard and has also reached beyond Scandinavia – as has God in disguise, a lyric suite for soloists, reciter, chorus and orchestra to poems by Hjalmar Gullberg. He wrote a lot for orchestra, plenty of film music, theatre music, chamber music but few art songs. Nine Songs Op. 35 (1946), Twelve Songs (1955) and Eight Songs Op.52 (1964) plus a suite of songs to Emil Hagström poems (1955) and a single song from 1983 comprise his total oeuvre in this genre, and songs from the first three collections are represented here. The Nine Songs Op. 35 are all settings of Hjalmar Gullberg. Larsson had close relations with Gullberg, both privately and in working life, and it seems that he was particularly inspired by him. I have a couple of other songs from Op. 35 in recordings by tenor Claes-Håkan Ahnsjö that are just as attractive as the four songs on the present disc. The two songs from Op. 52 to texts by Gulli Lundström-Michanek (1931 – 1994), a poet otherwise unknown to me, are also good examples of Larsson’s lyrical idiom.

The two concluding songs are typical encores, short, light in tone and real sweets. Larsson’s Läkedomsört beautiful and folk song-like, Linde’s ditty about Mulle, the dog, full of humour.

I first became acquainted with Lisa Gustafsson’s brilliant lyrical voice when I reviewed the recording of Hilding Rosenberg’s opera Lycksalighetens ö (The Isle of Bliss), where she sang the role of Zephyr impressively (review). She is active in both opera and musical and has a lightness of tone and easy top notes that are quite enthralling. Her accompanist Mårten Landström is excellent and the recording leaves nothing to be wished.

This is a highly rewarding disc with two romantics in disguise.

Göran Forsling

Track listing
Bo LINDE (1933 – 1970)
Annas sagor op. 2/Anna’s Tales Op. 2 (1952)
1. I. [1:09]
2. II. [1:09]
3. III. [1:01]
4. IV. [1:32]
5. V. [2:28]
6. VI. [2:12]
7. VII. [2:14]
8. VIII. [1:15]
9. IX. [1:07]
10. X. [1:43]
11. XI. [1:05]
12. XII. [2:22]
Lars-Erik LARSSON (1908 – 1986)
Ur Nio sånger op. 35/From Nine Songs Op. 35 (1946)
13. II. Jag väntar månen [1:21]
14. IV. Bortom berg och mörka vatten [1:56]
15. III. Serenad [1:52]
16. Skyn, blomman och lärka [2:13]
Ur Åtta sånger op. 52/From Eight Songs Op. 52 (1964)
17. II. Du är bönen [2:56]
18. III. Det var oändligt [4:13]
Bo LINDE
Fjorton sånger om våren op 40/Fourteen Songs of Spring Op. 40 (1969)
19. I. Vårdagjämning [1:48]
20. II. Våretyd för två fingrar [1:47]
21. III. Regn fall sky [1:12]
22. IV. Äppelträd och päronträd [1:11]
23. V. Ekokväll [2:33]
24. VI. Vårmysterium [0:53]
25. VII. Den ängen där du kysste mig [2:04]
26. VIII. Kristen trosbekännelse [1:21]
27. IX. Gökrop [1:09]
28. X. För alla vindar [1:38]
29. XI. En såningsman [0:58]
30. XII. Idyll och epigram [1:02]
31. XIII. Prinsessan Juni [1:22]
32. XIV. Till sist [2:04]
Lars-Erik LARSSON
Ur Tolv visor/From Twelve Songs (1955)
33. XI. Läkedomsört [0:48]
Bo LINDE
Ur/From Sommarlov op. 34
34. Mulle, vår hund, är en lurvig best [1:04]

 

 




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