Collection: Black Roses

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Grieg,Rangstrom,Sibelius & Nielsen
LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: Songs by Rangström, Grieg, Sibelius & Nielsen
PERFORMER: Solveig Kringelborn (soprano) Malcolm Martineau (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45273 2

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The latest of the current impressive generation of Scandinavian singers to record a recital of Nordic songs, the Norwegian soprano Solveig Kringelborn has chosen six songs each by four composers: Rangström, Grieg, Sibelius and Nielsen, respectively a Swede, a Norwegian, a Finn and a Dane. Kringelborn has an attractively bright voice, shining and secure at its top, mellow and steady in its lower reaches. Its most striking feature is her diction: every vowel is expressed and shaped with almost sculptural effect, and the way she rolls her Rs has the gorgeous effect of a purr.

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Rarely have the hurdy-gurdy sounds of Swedish and Norwegian sounded quite so beautiful. But her manner, though sincere, is cool. She may be an exemplary communicator of sounds, but meaning is sometimes left to founder. This remoteness is unexpectedly effective in some of the Rangström songs, with their atmospheric, evocative piano parts and elliptical texts, but there are moments in Sibelius’s Six Songs (Op. 36) – the disc’s title song especially – and in Grieg’s Ibsen settings (Op. 25), a cycle the Grieg specialist John Horton has compared with Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death, when stronger dramatic input and a palpable sense of rapture would make the difference between excellent and outstanding. Claire Wrathall