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Anna Nyhlin, soprano, and Bernt Malmros, piano.
Chamber music with a focus on Swedish songs from the early 19th century in combination with vocal music by W A Mozart, J H Roman, J Haydn and their contemporaries.
Swedish composer, publisher and organist Olof Åhlström was born in 1756. He left home at 16, hiking to Stockholm, where he arrived on the day of King Gustav III's revolution. Olof became one of the first students at the newly-founded Royal Academy of Music and later worked as organist at St Jacob's church in Stockholm, where he remained until his death in 1835. Åhlström published serial sheet music with the most recent music and poetry from Sweden and the Continent. Some of his songs, set to texts by the most popular Swedish poets of the time, could be described as early Lieder.
Bernt Malmros and Anna Nyhlin give various chamber music programmes where Åhlström is presented along with contemporary and more familiar composers.
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New project and CD 2017:
Mathilda Orozco - The Southern Lady in the North
Sensuous, intelligent, and musical – such terms have been used to describe the woman with the fascinating name Mathilda Orozco Montgomery-Cederhielm. During the first half of the 19th century she held a widely renowned salon in her home at which such guests as the Swedish crown prince Oscar, members of the Royal Swedish Academy, British generals, baronesses, and peeresses got together.
Whether as singer, harpist, pianist or composer, Mathilda gave her friends a glimpse of the Continent through her exotic cultural personality. One of those who belonged to her circle of friends was Erik Gustav Geijer, and he sang her praises in a song with the title Söderländskan i Norden (The Southern Lady in the North). But who was she, this colourful and enterprising woman?
Mathilda was born in Milan in 1796, daughter to a Spanish father and an Austrian mother. After a short marriage to a considerably older Italian man, she married the Swede, Josias Montgomery-Cedrhielm, in 1817 and moved to the cold barren North. In only three months she learned Swedish, and together with her husband she became a very popular hostess at lavish banquets parties.
Mathilda was looked on as a exotic symbol for Italy, the country associated with love and beauty, and she lavished on her guests the latest in literature, art and music. The Swedish crown prince, later Oscar I, was one of her many guests. It is said that he was more that willing to sing duets with Mathilda. After Josias died in 1825, leaving Mathilda with four children, somewhat more than a decade of busy social life followed for Mathilda.
It was in particular the years between 1825 and 1839 that marked the highlight of Mathilda’s social activities. She had a great many friends but found also time to write and compose. She wrote about 60 songs, most of which were published and spread through popular music books. These songs reflect the life of the salon and at times the Italian heritage of Mathilda ́s youth. Her musical language is original, and from the range of the melodies one realises what a brilliant singer she was herself. When one reads of how others reacted to her voice and vocal art, one understands that she had a good command of the bel canto tradition that, with improvised embellishments, was customary in Italy.
In 1839 she remarried, this time to Carl Gyllenhaal and left Stockholm for the provinces. The salons and The Royal Court of the capital were replaced by military balls in the country.
During the 67 years of her life she collected languages, cultural expressions, and traditions from Spain, Italy, Austria, France, and Sweden. She was married three times, relocated countless times, gave birth to five children, and kept company with royalty and the cultural elite as well as farmhands and farmers. She wrote poetry and music, played instruments, sang, acted, and spread joy and vitality around her. A rich life, one might suppose, but she sometimes mourned the lack of depth and gravity in the gaiety characteristic of social life.
We who today cannot have the pleasure of meeting her in the role of entertaining hostess at her salon can instead meet her at another level through her music and be amazed at her compexity and breadth.
Text: Anna Nyhlin
Translation: Donald Lavery
Photo: Tom Beimel