Anneke van Giersbergen & Árstíðir – “Verloren Verleden” (2016)

Label: Agua Recordings

Review by Alessandra Cognetta

Anneke van Giersbergen and Árstíðir bring the Netherlands and Iceland together to reinterpret some classics through their own lenses. Arias, folk tunes and hymns are transformed and adapted to an acoustic setting, where a few instruments – mainly guitar, piano and strings – support Anneke’s soft voice, which she uses masterfully to make each cover stand out from simple imitation. The first track is “Bist Du Bei Mir” (“If You Are With Me”) a German aria from the early 1700s. Both arrangement and vocals were adapted to fit the style of the contributing artists. Anneke‘s soft voice is accompanied by a guitar, strings and some scattered accents from the piano, with a perhaps simpler but still very emotional effect. “Solveig’s Song” is instead taken from Grieg‘s Peer Gynt (circa 1875). This time, the lyrics were adapted into English. Once again, Anneke reinterprets what used to be an aria to suit her own style, delivering a very intimate and passionate performance. The minimalist accompaniment provided by Árstíðir perfectly fits the more personal atmosphere the rearrangement wants to deliver. “Het Dorp” (“The Village”), a very rare instance of Anneke singing in her mother language, is originally sung by Wim Sonneveld, but it is, musically, a cover of Jean Ferrat‘s “La Montagne”. It is followed by “Russian Lullaby”, written by Irving Berlin (1927). The acoustic guitar still leads the way, supporting Anneke‘s voice into a performance that feels quite close to blues. “Þér Ég Unni” brings forward Árstíðir as singers, with an amazing a cappella interpretation. In the Irish-inspired “Londonderry Air (Danny Boy)” Anneke displays her wide range with some very warm low notes, while Árstíðir’s arrangement almost feels cinematic at times. “A Simple Song” is, despite its deceiving title, one of the most striking tracks of the release, with an incredible atmosphere, shared by Purcell’s “When I Am Laid in Earth”, an aria already covered by Anneke in the past. Árstíðir’s strings support her performance tremendously, giving the cover a completely different pace than the rest of the album, alternating from frantic to slow, to best suit Dido’s feelings. “Heyr, Himna Smiður” is another a cappella performance where all the artists are singing. Árstíðir already performed Kolbeinn Tumason’s Icelandic hymn in the past, albeit without a female solo. Fauré‘s “Pavane” sees Árstíðir providing vocals beside Anneke once again, this time in French. The most striking features of “Verloren Verleden” are the broad range of songs that were chosen and the way they were all rearranged into a uniform style, with all the distinctive traits of both artists still present and easily identifiable. It is definitely a must for long-time fans, but also a good starting point for anyone who is interested and it would be great to see more of this format, as it appears to be working amazingly so far.

Rating – 80/100

 

Tracklist

  1. Bist Du Bei Mir
  2. Solveig’s Song
  3. Het Dorp
  4. Russian Lullaby
  5. Þér Ég Unni
  6. Londonderry Air (Danny Boy)
  7. A Simple Song
  8. When I Am Laid in Earth
  9. Heyr, Himna Smiður
  10. Pavane

 

Links

facebook.com/annekevangiersbergenofficial

twitter.com/AnnekeAnnique

annekevangiersbergen.com

facebook.com/arstidir

twitter.com/Arstidir

arstidir.com