Swedish Traditional Songs Portray the Quintessential Music About Summer and Love
If the legendary Swedish folk music troubadours Evert Taube and Olle Adolphson had heard vocalist Johanna Grüssner's and pianist Mika Pohjola's versions of their classic songs, they probably would have agreed that this music has endless possibilities to evolve and reinvent itself for future generations. It is important to remain true to a tradition, and especially with so much American influence in our pop culture today, the truly Swedish songs ("visor") are sometimes endangered in character. But on this album, first released in 2007 on CD as Nu blir sommar ("Summer is coming"), the original versions are beautifully preserved, and additionally expanded with Pohjola's inventive piano playing. Mika Pohjola is known as a jazz pianist and composer in the United States, but here he puts his Finland-Swedish background into full bloom, and proves he hasn't forgotten the music he grew up with. Johanna Grüssner's voice is straight, but expressive. Her pronunciation is exemplary Swedish, seldom heard today in vocal music. The message of each song is easy to understand and Johanna's sound expresses lots of summer and love, and captures the special feeling about the admittedly too short Scandinavian summer season.
Nu blir sommar was recently released worldwide under the title Swedish Traditional Songs, and represents the Swedish troubadour tradition at its highest. The songs include "Det gåtfulla folket" (The secretive people), "Nu kommer kvällen" (Come the Evening) and "Nu har jag fått den jag vill ha" (The One I Desire Is Mine) by Olle Adolphson, the famous "Nocturne" by Evert Taube, and equally often played "Tillägnan" (Dedication) by Monica Dominique. Special treats are the older traditional hymns, "Sommarpsalm", Carl-Michael Bellman's two epistles in a medley, and not the least "Den blomstertid nu kommer", all arranged by Pohjola in special and fresh versions.
It's delightful to hear these famous songs in vocal and piano versions, and this album is an excellent insight into what Swedish songs sound like at their best. Many already agree that this album is destined to become a quintessential piece of music on and about the Scandinavian music scene for years to come.
Published: Monday, February 22, 2010
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