Monday, 2 October 2017

Around a Swedish lake

Before the electrifying experience of Santtu-Matias Rouvali's first official concert as Principal Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra - quasi-review here, interview just up on The Arts Desk - I spent just under 24 hours north of the city, in Dalsland at the lakeside home of my friend Lucy and her partner Mats. Plus two cats, one who usually flees but allowed me to get close, Fatty, pictured here at the back door.

They've more or less created a typical red house around the shell of an old building, and renovated the stuga or cottage next door as a perfect holiday home (rates soon to be available on request, if you want perfect peace and quiet, plus steps down for your morning swim and a terrace just above).

The lake, Örsjön, has mostly farmland on one side and wooded hills on the other, We drove round to one of two attractive mills, at Gunvarbyn

and walked up a path behind it.

All walking routes are free-access in Sweden, though the inhabitants of any house you pass might stare more suspiciously than in the UK. This little settlement had recreated a folksy arrangement outside.

Our route took us through woods, with one red autumnal acer in marked contrast to the conifers

and abundant mushrooms. As usual my identification of the browny-greys is fruitless - it was reassuring a couple of years ago, on sending him some of my pictures of fungi in the Göljådalen valley of  Fulufjället national partk in mid-Sweden, to be told by a mycologist at Kew that one would need to provide more than just a photo for correct identification - but this looks more like a Brittlegill, or at least of the group Russula, than a Fly Agaric

while the only correspondent to this phallic specimen is a Shaggy Inkcap

and this is surely a Goblet Waxcap, which like the Brittlegill seems to have had a nibble taken out of it (and discarded beneath).

Lichen foregrounding trees

as well as on them

could be equally spectacular, and black skies over Backen on the opposite shore backgrounded the sunlit shoreline

though it augured inevitable rain, so having reached our destination

we retraced our steps rather than taking the long route back

and having passed this splendid complement of mossy roof and tree

reached the car as it started to pelt. My one great wish was to see an elk, and Lucy had said that one was most likely to appear in the rain. Sure enough, as she drove, a young elk ran alongside the car and darted into the greenery. So you'll have to take my word for it, corroborated by Lucy, that I saw one.

Next morning I took the dip already registered briefly in the Rouvali post - here's a more distant record, courtesy of Lucy -

and toured the grounds.

After an obligatory group shot in the porch,

Lucy drove us to Mellerud to catch the train back to Gothenburg via an old church with splendid iron grave-markers

and, typically, a detached tower

as well as the shores of western Europe's largest lake, Vänern.

Fungi grew in abundance on the greensward in front of the sands.

The spaciousness of what looked like an open sea, looking across to a wooded island, felt grand and Sibelian, with trees reflected in the water.

though the Sibelius piece with which I want to end, from one of the most individual sets in his huge output of solo piano music, is a hymn to a tree - 'The Spruce' ('Granen'), Op. 75 No. 5. Important to get that space in the wistful tenorial melodic line between upper and lower parts, and I like this performance by Kazumasa Matsumoto. There's a splendid new disc of Sibelius piano music from Leif Ove Andsnes which I'm about to review; the only pity is that it doesn't include all the 'tree pieces' of Op. 75.


toubab said...

Nice to see you enjoying Sweden! Thanks for a wonderful performance at the Wigmore last night XXSophie

Susan said...

Well, all I can say is, I want to go there now, would that I could escape. Do keep us posted when the rates become available. A visit to Sweden is very high on our list, though it will probably have to wait until next spring. The Spruce is a lovely piece of music. I’ve not paid attention to Sibelius piano music; I seem to recall being warned off somewhere that piano works were far from his forte. Based on listening to The Spruce, this seems to be “fake news.”

We are coming into most beautiful season where we are, with autumn color beginning in the hills, so that’s something to savor, for sure. The other is the beginning of the concert/opera season in New York. I and my friend both felt our Norma got us off to a roaring start. Tommasini seems to disagree; his loss, not ours. Next up is Pappano conducting Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia two nights running. The first program includes Respighi and Argerich performing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto 3, the second a new piece by Sciarrino, followed by Mahler’s 6th.

David said...

As you know from our Dalarna sojourn, Sophie, I love nothing more than swimming in a lake - though yours turned TOO cold after the lower depths were churned up... We had a good 'un at the Wigmore with heavenly Anne Schwanewilms.

Sue, I'll badger Lucy. Apparently it is even accessible in the snow so long as the visit is well timed - a snow plough visits daily to clear the track to the house.

Who was your Norma, I forget - oor Sondra? And you CANNOT be disappointed in Pappano and the Santa Cecilians. He's transformed that orchestra, which used to have rather thin strings, into one of the world's best. And Respighi they do superbly - there's a top CD with the three Roman sets complemented by the lovely song with orchestra 'Il tramonto', sung by the sublime Christine Rice. Hope Argerich shows!

Susan said...

Sondra, and she was sublime (which I is not a claim I have always made for her). Re Pappano, for you to know, I am WELL aware of this, and own the CD you mention--want to guess why? Because of you! Argerich has apparently been more likely to show in recent years, but I am still knocking all available wood!

David said...

I was listening to the Pappano Respighi again the other day - he could really mount an all-Respighi programme with 'Il tramonto' as a poetic interlude between two of the three Roman pictures... Christine Rice just goes from strength to strength, though she's no self-promoter and I gather keeps the engagements down because she has quite a few children (not sure how many now).