After her first foray into the little known world of Swedish song - on the superb and award-winning Wings in the Night from 1996 - here is another collection from the same source, featuring mainly different composers this time, and concentrating on those composing into the twentieth century.
Anne Sofie von Otter is possessed of a voice of great purity, an uncluttered instrument that sits uneasily beside many of her more obviously `operatic` contemporaries. It is what must have endeared her to Elvis Costello, leading to their mostly successful collaboration on For The Stars (well worth seeking out; here`s one classical singer who is able also to tackle popular songs in a credible way).
It is also what helps to make her an ideal singer of lieder, whether Schubert, Grieg or Berg, the French repertoire, or these often more rarefied songs from her homeland.
I am struck by the beauty of the two Alfven songs, Peonies and Take My Heart, but the whole disc is rewarding, especially as these songs are likely to be new to most people, making this a journey of discovery for singer and listener alike.
The `Three Songs` by Gosta Nystroem are dramatic, impressionistic and very lovely. He was influenced by the music he heard when living in Paris, and these colorations
pervade his songs.
Many of the songs are in some way about the natural world, the sea making an appearance in some of them, unsurprisingly given Sweden`s maritime location.
All in all this is a lovely recording, with von Otter`s regular pianist Bengt Forsberg a sympathetic, alert accompanist in this fascinating repertoire.
The booklet is a joy to look at and to read, with the songs` lyrics in both Swedish and English.
Von Otter has a direct, radiant voice, perfectly suited to these pellucid songs from her land of darkness and light.