Ballads from the Realm Beyond
In this solo concert Miriam AndersĂ©n invites the audience into the strange world of Swedish folklore. The form of storytelling which the Scandinavian medieval ballads represent connects on to the great epic tradition of the Viking Age and the era of the Great Migration. During the high Middle Ages stories about legendary or more recent heroes, the old ÂŻsir gods, fatal love between noblemen and noblewomen, encounters with supernatural beings and witchcraft and also religious legends were composed or recast in ballad form. This genre became very popular, generating new compositions and themes over a period of several hundred years. On the Faroe Islands it is still sung as dance accompaniment, whereas the most recent recordings of oral traditions in Sweden date from the twentieth century. A ballad like The Two Sisters is found all over Scandinavia, in England and in Estonia. The Dream Song is solely found in the south of Norway.
Sorgens makt (The Power of Grief) is a direct parallel to a passage in the epic Edda, where Helge Hundingsbane sets out from Valhalla to visit his wife, the valkyrie Sigrun, who is grieving over him so bitterly that her tears have covered him in blood. They spend the night in his grave-mound and when he leaves at dawn she dies of grief. The Norwegian Draumkvede (Dream Song), on the other hand, describes a mystical journey to the realm of death at Christmas - the "Midwinter nights" around the time of the winter solstice were traditionally regarded as dangerous and full of magic. During the Christmas night all sorts of ghosts were believed to be out and about, even old Woden with his followers - as is reflected in Olav Ă…stesonÂ´s tale. In TvĂĄ systrar (Two Sisters), Vaxebarnet (Wax Doll) and Den fĂ¶rtrollade riddaren (The Enchanted Knight) magic is at play: the dead body of a girl is made into a harp, with power to avenge her death; a young woman suffers an unnaturally extended pregnancy, brought about by the voodoo-like witchcraft of her mother-in-law; a boy must taste the blood of his unborn brother in order to undo the spell that turned him into a werewolf. In Stepmother a dead mother obtains permission from God to visit her children.