This disc is the sort of recital which is greater than the sum of its parts. Nytorp Musik's commissioning of four songs along with Ernman's wide ranging selection of songs give us a disc which both shows of the singer's talent and leaves us with a progression of songs whose interlinking resonances last long after the recital has finished.
This enterprising collection, containing 16 songs by 16 different composers grouped in fours and thematically arranged to illustrate the four seasons, showcases the remarkable talents of mezzo-soprano Malena Ernman (and her accompanist, Francisca Skoogh). The languages employed include German, French, English, Italian, and Swedish, with composers ranging from the familiar (Mendelssohn, Liszt, Grieg, Respighi, Mahler, Sibelius, Copland, Tchaikovsky, and Fauré) to the much less so (Storm, Koechlin, Gefors, Backman, Schreker, Jennefelt).
Ernman's voice is lovely and she commands a wide range of tone colours, from the boyish opening of Mendelssohn's "Frülingslied" to the lightly chirpy birdsong of Mahler's "Ablosung im Sommer". On the whole, she's at her best when she's at her least affected.
Ernman's creative choice of repertoire and thoughtful ordering of the material speak eloquently of the care that went into her program. This would be a marvelous recital to hear live, and Ernman's accompanist Francisca Skoogh stays with her every step of the way, matching the singer in her sensitivity to the meaning of each song.