Saturday, 12 May 2012

The Emerald Princess on its first visit this season

The Emerald Princess - here shown close to  Helsingør this evening, on its way from Copenhagen to Oslo - is one of the bigger ships cruising Scandinavia this season. The 289 x 38 m ship offers nearly 900 cabins with balcony. 

A great day for windsurfing and "wingsurfing" in Øresund

This was a great day for windsurfing in the Sound. These two guys quite clearly enjoyed the speed. It was  obvious that they were not beginners ...

Not a bad day for "wingsurfing", either:

Cunard´s Queen Victoria on her first visit to the Sound this year

Early on this greyish morning, one of the Cunard royalties, Queen Victoria (294 x 32m, 90,000 GRT) approached Helsingør on its way from Oslo to Copenhagen. The ship, also known as QV, has accomodation for 1990 passengers, and the number of crew is 981.

The captain of this cruise is Ian Hutley, but he is sharing the job with Inger Klein Olsen - the first lady captain of this perhaps the most famous of all cruise lines - who was in charge still last week.

Here is an interview with captain Olsen - a native of Faroe Islands:

Friday, 11 May 2012

Clouds over Øresund

Late this afternoon an interesting formation of clouds appeared in the sky over Øresund:

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Ana María Martínez sings "Las Carceleras"

Ana María Martínez is one of the most stylish operatic  singers

Among the many "pearls" of the Spanish Zarzuela, "Las Carceleras" from Ruperto Chapi´s "Las Hijas Del Zebedeo" is one of my personal favourites. This very Spanish song has been - and is still - performed by many of the the world´s leading sopranos and mezzos. But there is nobody who does it better than the great Puerto Rican soprano Ana María Martínez:

This performance is from a Zarzuela concert which Ana María Martinez and Placído Domingo gave in Salzburg in 2007.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Swedish soprano Paulina Pfeiffer on her way to international fame

Pauline Pfeiffer is currently singing Mimi at the Royal Opera in Stockholm. On this video she is  appearing together with tenor Charles Castronuovo at the Jussi Björling gala in September 2011. 

"The beautiful singing Paulina Pfeiffer, was a great experience as Adalgisa, she has it! And in the great Swedish-Nordic singing tradition, headed by Birgit Nilsson, Elisabeth Söderström, Kirsten Flagstad and Ingrid Bjoner, Paulina Pfeiffer has this little extra which is needed. I shouldn't be surprised if she soon could be one of the great Wagner singers in the world, but hopefully not "only" Wagner, too the other many great roles in the Lyric Dramatic repertoir are all waiting for her and her beautiful voice."

Kulturkompasset, 20 januari 2010

There are few things which are as enjoyable as to see a young artist succeed. That was excactly what happened last night at the Dunker cultural centre in Helsingborg, where the Swedish soprano Paulina Pfeiffer gave a recital. 

Miss Pfeiffer, who already has won great international acclaim for her Adalgisa in 
Théâtre du Châtelet´s production of Norma, had chosen a varied programme of Swedish and international songs as well as familiar opera arias.  

Already the first songs by Peterson-Berger, Mendelssohn and Schubert clearly showed why critics have been full of praise; Miss Pfeiffer has a voice of extraordinary beauty - particularly in the middle register - which, together with her superb phrasing and stage presence are the ingredients needed for a great international career. 

Among my favourites this evening were three songs by Grieg - Med en vandlilje, I Rosentiden and En dröm and the four Strauss songs, Zueignung, Morgen, Befreit and Caecilie

Not surprisingly, the audience loved the opera arias, Si mi chiamano Mimi (La Bohème), Sola, perduta (Manon Lascaut) and Rusalka´s Song to the Moon, all beautifully delivered and acted.

After the two encores, Lehár´s Meine Lippensie küssen so heiß and Puccini´s O mio babbino caro the audience gave an enthusiastic - and deserved - standing ovation. 

However, one must not forget that not even the the best singers in the world can succeed in a recital without the assistance of a good pianist (or other instrumantalist). Last night Miss Pfeiffer was fortunate to have one of the best, pianist Matti Hirvonen, as her partner. The support given by the safe hands of a seasoned professional is particularly important for young singers, still in the beginning of their career. Mr. Hirvonen also delighted the audience with two solo pieces, Impromptu, D899 by Schubert and Fantasy in b minor.op 11 by Stenhammar.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Freighter Lian in front of Kronborg castle

On this beautiful spring evening the small cargo ship Lian (65 x 12m) passed Kronborg castle on its way from Helsingborg to Århus.

Everything was nice and peaceful in the Sound this evening:

Sunday, 6 May 2012

A tribute to Dan Andersson - a great Swedish poet

Dan Andersson (1888-1930) is one of Sweden´s most beloved poets. His poems, full of naturalist mysticism and search for God, appeal also to younger generations of Swedes. Many of his poems have been set to music and recorded by such artists as Björn Ulvaeus (ABBA), Sofia Karlsson, Gunde Johansson and Fred Åkerström

My own favourite Dan Andersson interpreter is Thorstein Bergman, who´s  recording of Dan Andersson´s moving poem The Beggar from Luossa is featured above. 

The Beggar from Luossa
Translated by Caroline Schleef

From Luossa came a beggar singing to the village folk.
Round the watch fire they lingered while he sang
Songs of pilgrims and of beggars, song of wondrous, wondrous things
And of his yearning did he sing the whole night long

"There is something beyond mountains, beyond stars and all the blossoms,
Something, too, behind my song, behind this burning heart of mine
Listen — something goes and whispers, goes and lures me and beseeches
Come to us, for earth below is not the kingdom that is thine!"

I have listened to the lapping of waves upon the shore,
I have dreamed that the wildest seas were calm and still.
And in spirit I have hurried to that contourless land,
Where the dearest we have known we´ll know no more.

To a wild, eternal longing were we born of ash-pale mothers,
And from travail, anxious, painful, rose our first, our wailing cry
Were we tossed on plain and hillside, just to tumble round and frolic,
Then we played at elk and lion, beggar, God and butterfly.

Did I sit beside her, silent, she whose heart was as my own,
Did she tend our home with soft and gentle hands,
Loudly was my own heart shouting, "What you own there is not yours!"
And my spirit drove me onward to find peace.

What I love is lying yonder, lies concealed in dusky distance,
And my rightful way leads high to wonders there.
In this clamor I am tempted to beseech Him, "Lord, O Master,
Take all earth away, for own I will what no one, no one has

Join me, brother, beyond mountains with their still and cooling rivers,
Where the sea is slow to slumber in its peak-encircled bed.
Somewhere far beyond the heavens lies my home, have I my mother
In a gold-besprinkled vapor, in rose-tinted mantle clad.

May the black and brackish waters cool our cheeks with fever reddened,
May we be from life far distant where the morning is awake
Never was I one with this world, and unending tribulation
Suffered, restless, unbelieving, suffered from my burning heart.

On a seashore sown with cockles stands a gate with roses laden,
Where in slumber, vagrants perish and all weary souls find peace.
Song is never heard resounding, viols never echo, ringing
Under arches where forever cherubs of salvation dwell.

Here is a different - but also fine - interpretation by Björn Ulvaeus:

A brief biographical note on Dan Andersson, written by Caroline Schleef: 

DAN ANDERSSON was born on April 6, 1888 in Grangärde parish, Dalarne,
Sweden. He grew up in an atmosphere of simplicity, poverty and deep piety. At
the age of fourteen, he came to America to visit his father's relatives in Forest
Lake and Tamarack, Minnesota, but went back to his native land at the end of
eight months.
His working life as forest-laborer and charcoal-burner began soon after his return
home. Many of his first stories and poems were written in intervals between
tending his charcoal kilns "by the dim glow of a sooty lantern, swinging from the
smoke-grimy roof of his sod-cabin."
In 1915, he attended the winter course at the Brunnsvik Folk High School near
Ludvika. He married in 1918. His death through accidental asphyxiation occurred
in Stockholm during the night of September 15, 1920. He lies buried on a lovely
knoll in the Ludvika churchyard, overlooking Vessman Lake and the mystic,
forest-clad ranges of his native Dalarne.
An edition of five volumes constitutes the poet's collected writings: Charcoal-
Burner's Tales; The Three Homeless Ones & David Ramm's Inheritance; Songs &
Ballads; Posthumous Stories; Gleanings, Verse & Prose.
Recognition accorded so meagerly during his lifetime came with the poet's death.
And interest in him has not waned with the passing years. All unconsciously, Dan
Andersson stimulated a host of young authors, particularly members of the
working-class, who have contributed so refreshingly to both Swedish poetry and

There is a Dan Andersson museum in Ludvika and a Dan Andersson week is celebrated also in Ludvika in the first week of August.