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<<  -- 2 --  Robert Hugill    INTERLINKING RESONANCES


Mendelssohn's Frühlingslied (A Song of Spring, Op 43 No 3) [listen -- track 1, 0:00-1:01] makes a fine start to the recital, in a lively and charmingly refreshing performance which ends with hints of longing. This is followed by one of the best-known pieces on the disc, Grieg's Våren (Last Spring, Op 33 No 2) [listen -- track 2, 0:00-1:21]. Ernman displays her feel for the line of the music to good effect and responds well to the innate musicality of the Norwegian text, giving the whole piece a gently elegiac feel. My only complaint is that the upper register of the piano sounds unfortunately glassy. The next spring song is in a far richer, late romantic idiom, Ottorino Respighi's Il Giardino (The Garden). Ernnam seems a little stiff, I hesitate to suggest that she might be uncomfortable in Italian, and the piano a little too reticent. This is a shame, as Respighi's songs are all too often neglected and deserve to be better known. The final spring song is a setting by Staffan Storm (born 1964) of a text by Strindberg, Ur 'Våren på Djurgården' (From 'Spring on Djurgarden'). Storm professes to find this essay on a loathing for spring 'enormously entertaining', but I found it all rather dour and po faced. It is a very wordy piece, which Storm sets like a baroque scena, but the lack of a parallel text (the English and the Swedish texts are in different booklets) made it tricky to follow. Still, Storm hints at some attractive jazz-influenced rhythms and melodies and Ernman gives a very strong performance.

Summer opens with Copland's Emily Dickinson setting Nature, the Gentlest Mother, No 1. Ernman catches the gently elegiac feel of the piece, redolent of Copland at his best depicting his native America, though Ernman's impressive performance is marred by one or two mistakes in her English pronunciation, though her diction is admirable. This is followed by Charles Koechlin's L'ete (Summer), a short piece, full of controlled passion which Ernman works up to an impressive climax. Mahler's Ablösung im Sommer (Change in Summer) is given a well-characterised performance and the Summer group finishes with Förra sommarn (The Summer before) by Hans Gefors (born 1952) in which a young woman remembers previous summers. Gefors uses a tonal, chromatic idiom with hints of jazz and blues to create an atmospheric remembrance of times past ('The loveliest summer's always the one before').

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Copyright © 6 January 2005 Robert Hugill, London UK


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