To Cecilia: Swedish Love Songs

Sankta Cecilia has since the middle ages been regarded as the patron saint of music, and above all the church music. She is portrayed with musical instruments on a variety of paintings and the organ has been her special attribute. Cecilia's name day on November 22, has over the centuries been celebrated with music festivals and many composers have written pieces in her honor. For this CD in honor of the patron saint of music, I have chosen love songs mainly by Swedish composers.

Torsten Mossberg

Torsten Mossberg, tenor Torsten is a physician, specialist in Anesthesiology and intensive care. He has studied singing with among others Ester Ruhrseitz, Eva Pilat and Björn Thulin. He has extensive experience as a choir singer, a tenor in the Oscar Chamber Choir in Stockholm and often engaged as a soloist. Torsten has a broad repertoire, from ballads to romances and cabaret songs, and has released several CDs of rarely recorded songs by Swedish composers.

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Exactly why Richard Strauss’s Morgen is included in this collection of Swedish Love Songs is not explained. It is a love song, it is popular but not particularly Swedish. The presence of Leo Ferré’s Elle tourne la terre (tr. 20) is more understandable, since Lars Forssell’s Swedish version became very popular as early as 1957 when Olle Adolphson recorded it. Both these foreign birds are excellently performed and the Ferré song is sung with deep insight. I am very fond of his Taube songs, several of them personal favourites since long. Så skimrande var aldrig havet, tender-hearted and simple, Som stjärnor små, well nuanced but too swift for my taste and rather rigid, Min älskling, stressing the tango rhythm (Taube lived in his youth in Argentina and assimilated the music of South America), the seldom heard Kärleken och vinden, movingly sung, and Maj på Malö, really charming.

Hugo Alfvén, internationally best known for his symphonic music, was also a fine composer of songs and Saa tag mit hjerte, a setting of a poem by the Danish poet Tove Ditlevsen, composed as late as 1946 when he was in his mid-70s, is one of his finest.

The popular poet Nils Ferlin (1898 – 1961), wrote poems that more or less cried out for being set to music. Lille Bror Söderlundh (Mossberg recorded an all-Söderlundh CD some years ago), Torgny Björk and Gunnar Turesson – three of the most prominent composers of “visor” were all deeply inspired by his words, just as Monica Dominique drew her inspiration from Lars Forssell highly personal texts. Tillägnan has become a classic. Rolf Fogelström was a personal friend of Torsten Mossberg and the two waltzes, originally accordion music for dancing, were given texts by Mossberg as an homage to his older friend. A present-day favourite in Sweden is Koppången, recorded by so differing musicians as trombonist Lars Karlin and mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter. The title is the name of a wetland area in the province of Dalecarlia.

The concluding song, När du sluter mina ögon from Hjärtats sånger (Songs of the heart) (1942) is one of the gems of Swedish art songs. The accompaniments are worth an extra paragraph: discrete arrangements for harp, guitar and piano in various combinations. Everything is so tasteful and this also includes Mossberg himself. Never an interventionist performer he presents the music without a lot of fuss, simple, natural.

The target group of this issue is of course Swedish listeners in the first place, but many of the melodies should also have an appeal to an international public, and with English translations of the texts the disc should be accessible also from a textual point of view. Göran Forsling, MusicWeb

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