Notes and Editorial Reviews
Four Songs to texts by Folcke. Two Songs to Texts by Fröding and Folcke. Two Poems by Vogt. Five Songs to Texts by Burns and Heine. Three Songs to Poems by Stuckenberg. Four Poems by Wildenvey. Six Songs to Texts by Hovden and Vinje. Alt var dig. En Vaggvislåt. En Vår – En Dikt
Ann-Beth Solvang (sop); Erling R. Eriksen (pn)
TOCCATA 0124 (66:44
Text and Translation)
A search of the
yields few reviews of recordings of music of Eyvind Alnæs (1872-1932). In 35:1 Peter Burwasser favorably reviewed an earlier Toccata release of piano music, with the same pianist as is heard here, and Barry Brenesal wrote in 33:6 about a disc of Alnæs’s two symphonies on Sterling. Both critics were positive, but with restraint. This disc of songs inspires the same reaction in me. These are very attractive, and the disc is lovely listening (in part because of the fine performances), but the songs do not stay in the memory in the way that great music does.
Alnæs was a Norwegian composer one generation after Grieg, and Grieg was an important supporter. But Alnæs never found true success and lived much of his life in poverty. His Second Symphony, composed in 1923, attained some genuine public success, but it was too little, too late.
It would be tempting to call this “second rate Grieg,” but it is really not that. Both have roots in Norwegian folk music, but Alnæs seems more influenced by both German Lied, and to a lesser extent French Impressionism. Nonetheless, one hears similarities to Grieg as well. Alnæs’s melodies are attractive, and his sensitivity to text-setting is strong. What is lacking is genius. These are songs of real skill and craft, and those who enjoy exploring off-beat vocal byways will find much pleasure here. But don’t expect to discover a forgotten master.
Solvang’s lyric soprano is attractive and colorful, and she is capable of floating some lovely pianos. Very rarely she pushes it too much and the tone turns hard, but this is a minor flaw in a disc of lovely singing. Eriksen is clearly as much of an Alnæs expert as we have today—having recorded a disc of piano pieces—and he and Solvang are on the same wavelength throughout. One could not ask for better performances. The recorded sound is a bit too “airy” for my tastes—but one gets used to it quickly enough. Very informative and high-quality program notes along with complete texts and translations round out the production.
FANFARE: Henry Fogel
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