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Andrew Mellor
Gramophone, September 2016

[Lise Davidsen] offers richness, depth, presence and character, particularly in the deeper Blake settings Songs of Experience, …Alexander Nohr’s baritone is warm and embracing in some areas… Morten Grove Frandsen’s countertenor has a sharp edge, …he shows endearing character in Seven Silly Songs and elsewhere. Liv Oddveig Midtmageli sings with clarity though with some squashed vowels, and handles Frandsen’s angular challenges well. Fine accompaniments, particularly from Orsi Fajger. © 2016 Gramophone

David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2016

Composer, organist, lecturer and recording producer, John Frandsen has become a central figure in Denmark’s musical world over the past thirty years. Spread over almost all genres, his portfolio of works range from opera, symphonic and chamber music to a rich seam of songs from most of his creative life. The present disc concentrates on song cycles accompanied either by the piano or guitar, and stylistically are in the lineage of Berg and Webern. They use a wide variety of texts from the biblical content of Lystens liturgi, through the Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake, and finally to the anonymous English and American verses for the Seven Silly Songs. They are set for soprano, countertenor and baritone, and mainly use the voice at the very upper end of its range. To my ears it makes for a strenuous sound that would not always—to my mind—reflect the words, and find it strange that we have passages of lyric beauty which seem out of place. Over the years I have respected Frandsen as a composer rather more than I have enjoyed the disc. It is surely a testing time for the two sopranos, Lise Davidsen and Liv Oddveig Midtmageli, whose voices sound rather dry in those upper reaches, the baritone, Alexander Nohr, having the most readily attractive music in rummet, hvor jeg engang boede (The room where I once lived). The major discovery is the countertenor, Morten Grove Frandsen, whose voice is the perfect facsimile of a female alto and is well cast in the Seven Silly Songs. As the composer is also the record producer, we must take these as benchmark performances, the sound well balanced between singer and accompaniment. © 2016 David’s Review Corner

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