Nielsen: Songs

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LABELS: Dacapo
WORKS: Songs
PERFORMER: Inger Dam-Jensen (soprano), Morten Ernst Lassen (baritone), Ulrich Staerk (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.224218
If only young singers would dare to twist their tongues and larynxes round the Danish language, we’d doubtless be able to hear more of the fresh and ever-engaging songs of Carl Nielsen in recital. The recording catalogue reveals only a handful of largely Danish performances; and here’s another. It presents both the composer’s art-songs and his heart-songs – those treasures of Danish hearth and home – in a new and enticing anthology.


Nielsen’s settings of JP Jacobsen (composed on his honeymoon) and of Ludvig Holstein were famously championed by the great Danish tenor Aksel Schiøtz, whose Danacord recordings are still available. A selection of these songs is shared here between Morten Ernst Lassen, whose supple, subtle baritone warms to the spacious acoustic of Copenhagen’s Royal Library in ‘Sunset’; and the irresistible Inger Dam-Jensen who enjoys the poignant drollery of the lovelorn page in Jacobsen’s ‘Period Piece’. An unstoppable free-flow of melody, nicely pointed by Nielsen’s pungent harmonic palette in Ulrich Staerk’s eloquent accompanying, characterises the deceptively simple Holstein settings, including ‘Song behind the Plough’ and ‘Apple Blossom’.


Dam-Jensen delectably recreates Nielsen’s sun-dappled setting of Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘Nature Study’ – all gooseberry bushes and linen drying on the line. And finally the two singers join in Henrik’s and Pernille’s spirited duo from Maskarade. Hilary Finch