Saturday, 21 November 2009
Elisabeth Söderström passes away
Elisabeth Söderström passed away yesterday 20th Nov. Here is an obit written by Alan Blyth some years ago. So many memories ! Strangely enough, in the last few days, I've been thinking about her rendition of Sibelius's Se'n har jag ej frågat mera. (Since then, I have asked no more). It was odd, as I haven't thought about it in ages. But I pulled it out again, and it's marvellous, and a great way to remember Söderström.
It is a wonderful song, one of Sibelius's greatest and most intense. Yet so understated and dignified. In youth a woman used to ask why summer ended so soon. Then, when she learned of life, she questioned no longer. "Deep in her soul", she has "come to know that beauty is transient, and that happiness does not last".
On the DVD, she sings against a filmed landscape of mid winter, with heavily snow laden trees reflected in the waters of a lake, a symphony in grey and white, as abstract as a painting. It is incredibly poetic, a poignant way of expressing music in visual images - a five minute masterpiece of the art of filming music. When Söderström appears, she's filmed in soft focus, lit with luminous shimmering light. She's quite mature, about 55 but this adds to the depth and dignity of her performance. We are fortunate that Söderström lives forever on recordings.