Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sweden: Alfvén, Stenhammar and Sjöberg

1. Hugo Alfvén [1872-1960]:
Så Tag Mit Hjerte (So Take my Heart)

2. Wilhelm Stenhammar [1871-1927]:
I Skogen (In the Woods)

3. Carl Sjöberg [1861-1900]:
Tonerna (Tunes)
Châtelet, Paris, 2001
piano: Scottish pianist Malcolm Martineau.

I wasn't able to find all the texts for these. But I really don't think it's necessary. Just listen, you'll see what I mean. This is from a live recital at the Chatelet in Paris. I have the DVD. It's very moving and expressive singing.

Go HERE for the great Jussi Björling singing Stenhammar's "Severige" with a beautiful film by the poster.


  1. It is indeed a beautiful, moving song. Whatever Barbara does is fine with me. There are so many colours. Just looking at her face there are no need for words, because I understand everything...

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  3. Here I think about the art of expression. Bonney sings with deep expression. Her timbre is beautiful and her phrasing is equally beautiful. The first piece is sung in Danish and the other two in Swedish. Her pronunciation is not great, and I listened to these pieces a few times trying to figure out what she is doing, or not doing. It is very obvious to a Swede, or Dane, that she is American. Perhaps it is not even relevant, being expressive seems more important. However, to me this is interesting. Some of her vowels, particularly the Swedish 'y' and 'a' (with dots) are always closed and Bonney sings them more like the German 'u' and 'a' (umlaut). I hardly ever listen to non-Swedes singing Swedish. There aren't that many non-Swedes performing in Swedish. Thank you for putting up Bonney! When I last lived in Stockholm Bonney was recently married to Hagegard and she was performing with him in Stockholm. At the time she didn't sing any Scandinavian songs. It's great to see that even though her Swedish pronunciation is not 'perfect', the songs still come from a deep place within.

  4. It is funny that they called this the Swedish Dichterliebe. It does very much sound like the pieces were heavily influenced by a Schumann style! Her singing is fantastic, though I was distracted by the breathing. Maybe they miked her too closely or something. Her tone really brought out the emotional nature of the language. I've heard it said that you can't really stay in Scandinavia for more than a day without having a tearful farewell from those you meet. Is this true?

  5. Sverige
    I really enjoyed the Pastorale image that this composition and performance showed (not just the accompanying pictures). It sounds sweepingly romantic and peaceful at the same time, almost as an ode to the country.

  6. Wonderful singing. I loved one gesture in particular in the first song at about 20 seconds. Bringing the arms up to chest and keeping the palms facing her. I do not know why I enjoy this so much but it has a very passive effect to me. I do not know the text but it seems to be a willing submission for someone to take her heart leaving her completely vulnerable. I love vulnerability in music. It reflects the personality of the artist. She does this effect at 4:07 in the second piece. I love how her face is feeling the change of harmonies at the end of the second piece.

  7. Bonney's performance is poignant, graceful, and deeply captivating. It is true - there is no need for a translation. Her artistry, the purity and beauty of her voice, and the lyrical line of the music combine to give the audience a magical, glorious experience.

  8. This reminds me of some Brahms volkslieder. Such a powerful performance. Martineau's accompanying is flawless. He never sacrifices musicality and never gets in the way but is always still heard. A perfect complement!

  9. Barbara Bonnie, how I love thee! She manages to be so perfectly in tune with the appropriate aesthetic, while still inviting the audience into this dramatic and musical journey, as if they were taking each step, each risks, right along side her. She and Martineau make an very intelligent and approachable team.