Gunnel Mauritzson
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Gunnel Mauritzson
Xource ( / Laika, Germany (

cd cover Born on the Baltic isle of Gotland, soprano and composer Gunnel Mauritzson is a leading female voice on the Swedish folk scene. Heard while touring Germany in 2002, her unaffected but authoritative live presence was manifest, weaving a mesmerizing personal tapestry of Swedish folk, Balkan, classical and jazz influences. Conservatory trained, Mauritzson also teaches at Stockholm's Royal College of Music, and sings with the respected Swedish folk trio Nåra. In addition, she leads her own group which, on the evidence of its first release, sustains a dramatic musical vision and a far-reaching expressive sensibility deeply rooted in Nordic folk traditions.

A superbly talented voice like Mauritzson demands a capable ensemble, and she has it in the jazz-tinged virtuosity of fiddler Hans Kennemark, Roger Tallroth (guitar, bouzouki), Swedish Grammy nominee Anders Hagberg (flute, saxophone), and keyboardist Rickard Åström (who also plays with Groupa, the enduring Swedish experimental folk ensemble).

Five of Åter's eleven traditionally inspired selections are Mauritzson compositions (SKAP, the Swedish composer's organization, recently honored her work). Tinged with an austere Baltic beauty, Mauritzson's arrangements sustain a stately melancholic quality, the solitary expressive voice of bittersweet experience, wisdom earned the hard way, a little too late.

Complementing her delicate but startling vocal precision, the sparseness of the instrumental mood - always rooted in but never bound by folk tradition - somehow stills the furor of the music's astringent counterpoints. Mauritzson chants and teases ("Svart Fjäril"), whispers and reflects ("Åter"), murmurs ("Två Klots Hastighet"), insists ("Hemmet"), laments ("Sorgfågel," "Tånkar Du I Världen"), rejoices ("Noras Hemlightet"), takes flight ("Solhailing"). And on "Vita Blomma" (a traditional song arranged by Björn Ståbi, fiddler extraordinaire of Nåra), a mournful, sensuous, naturalistic poesy reigns: "It is here in silence you speak, white flower, and fragrance is your language." Throughout, voice and ensemble entwine in music whose durable human spirit, wounded but true, speaks like ice, like fire. With a restrained, elegant soulfulness, Åter is a most remarkable recording. - Michael Stone

Available at cdRoots

(p)(c)2001 Xource, used by permission

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