MGCD1Advance news: Song of the Silent North

27 Oct 2010
News of f
orthcoming release.

Song of the Silent North

MGCD1The landscapes of Scotland and Scandinavia sing with a transfixing physical silence. Dark in the shadow of listening mountains, in the sensuous silence of the land, we find our natural Nordic voice and identity - our song of the silent north.         

Forthcoming release – November 2010

Details at


In Song of the Silent North I have taken northern landscape, language and lyric as my theme. Entranced by the sensuous silence of the land, the hush of our northern landscape, and the colour and rhythm and cadence of language that forms dark in the shadow of listening mountains, I have brought together Scottish and Scandinavian song to sing with one Nordic voice. (Sally Garden) 

At the heart of the CD is Sally’s recording of Grieg’s ‘Haugtussa’ cycle, sung in Norwegian, along with 3 of her own ‘Haugtussa’ translations, sung in her native Scots. Sally’s dialect is the dialect of Edvard Grieg’s north east Scottish ancestors, and her Scots translations – the first of their kind and making their debut in the CD - are set in a real ‘sister’ landscape to Garborg’s Jæren. Performed with pianist Donald Hawksworth, Sally hopes her ‘Haugtussa’ interpretations – both Norwegian and Scottish - will be received in the spirit of warm Scottish-Scandinavian friendship with which they are heartily intended. 

Gathered as a group - for the first time ever - 4 Scandinavian settings of Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns, including two delightful settings by Halfdan Kjerulf and Agathe Backer-Grøndahl, introduce the CD.

There are also portraits of sea and land – a first set of ‘northern crossings’ bring together Scots and Norwegian composers whose works have seldom, if ever, crossed the seas between our countries before. From the C20, songs by composers Øystein Sommerfeldt and Johan Kvandal sit, in a delicate juxtaposition of voice and identity, alongside those of two Scotswomen, Marie Dare and Isobel Dunlop. There’s humour and sentiment too: Scots audiences will get a chance to hear Norway’s beloved ‘Anne Knutsdatter’, and Norwegians, Scotland’s favourite ‘Afton Water’ by Robert Burns. A boisterous ‘Up with the sail’ [Opp med seilet] by the adventurous C19 Scots poet and lover of Norway, J Logie Robertson, shatters the silence of the north with the scream of sea-birds and crashing waves and reminds us of our old maritime links.

A second set of ‘northern crossings’ features a special lyric tribute to Edvard Grieg – Sally’s setting of the beautiful Scots love lyric ‘Logie o’ Buchan’ [Logie av Buchan], the words written by Buchan schoolmaster George Halket (1692-1756), who was a neighbour of Edvard Grieg’s great great grandfather, John. Sally writes of discovering the signature of the two men on a document in the National Archives of Scotland and how it inspired her to compose a setting in the style of Grieg, which she performed for the first time at Vestkystfestivalen on the island of Sotra in 2007.

The CD completes with Scots composer Hamish MacCunn’s ‘The ash tree’ [Asken] - a last song of the silent north with its visions of snow and ice and the soft voice of the north wind. A gentle elegy on old age and celebration of landscape, it brings to a close a CD filled to the brim with life-giving images of the northern natural world – the lyric of the land from mountain to shore: the song of the silent north.

All the Scots songs are accompanied by specially commissioned sleevenote translations in Norwegian, and the CD comes complete with introductory notes and photography by Sally Garden.


Sally Garden
27 October 2010


Dr Sally Garden is currently Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Scandinavian Studies, University of Aberdeen.