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.