Fono Forum 10/2012: Empfehlung des Monats.
Fanfare 01-02/2013: "Strongly recommended to all lovers of romantic Lieder.”
Brought together by Anne Sofie von Otter, the four composers on this disc lived during the space of less than a century, from the birth of Erik Gustaf Geijer in 1783 to the death of Adolf Fredrik Lindblad in 1878, and thus prepared the ground for the great generation of Swedish song composers, including Stenhammar, Peterson-Berger and Rangström. The thirty-two songs selected by von Otter and Bengt Forsberg, her piano partner of long standing, provide a broad image of the early development of a Swedish Lied tradition. At one end of the spectrum is the simple grace and tunefulness of Lindblad’s and Geijer’s songs, mainly intended for domestic performance and of a highly lyrical nature, in terms of both music and texts – which were often written by the composers themselves. Incidentally both Lindblad and Geijer were inspired by the great Swedish soprano Jenny Lind, who performed songs by especially Lindblad at concerts in Sweden and abroad, including Mån tro? Jo, jo! ('Would You Think? Indeed!') and Varning ('Warning') included here. In comparison, Franz Berwald seems to have been more intent on breaking new ground with his relatively complex songs, attempting to reach an international audience through his settings of German and French texts. He wrote just a handful of songs and most of these are early, pre-dating the symphonies on which his fame rests. August Söderman, finally, was the youngest of the four, and began his career as a successful theatre musician at an early age. By the time he emerged as a composer in the 1850s, public concerts were becoming more frequent, and at the same time Söderman discovered Wagner’s music – two factors which induced him to search for new forms of musical expression in his songs, with the aim to create a broader narrative with a greater dramatic force. With her usual gift for characterization, Anne Sofie von Otter brings these largely forgotten miniatures to charming life, with the support of Bengt Forsberg, and, in two duets, the baritone Fredrik Zetterström.