Kristina: At Carnegie Hall

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
After the former ABBA members Benny Andersson and Bj?rn Ulvaeus collaborated with lyricist Tim Rice on the musical Chess in the mid-'80s, they next turned to a project related to their native country, a musical based on Vilhelm Moberg's series of novels The Emigrants. The series, which tells the story of the Swedish Diaspora to America in the mid-19th century, had previously been adapted into two lengthy films by director Jan Troell, The Emigrants 1971 and The New Land 1972, both starring Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow. Andersson and Ulvaeus focused on the character Ullmann had played, the wife and mother Kristina, taken by her husband, Karl Oskar, across the sea to the...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
After the former ABBA members Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus collaborated with lyricist Tim Rice on the musical Chess in the mid-'80s, they next turned to a project related to their native country, a musical based on Vilhelm Moberg's series of novels The Emigrants. The series, which tells the story of the Swedish Diaspora to America in the mid-19th century, had previously been adapted into two lengthy films by director Jan Troell, The Emigrants 1971 and The New Land 1972, both starring Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow. Andersson and Ulvaeus focused on the character Ullmann had played, the wife and mother Kristina, taken by her husband, Karl Oskar, across the sea to the U.S., where the family settles in Minnesota. By this point in Andersson and Ulvaeus' songwriting collaboration, they had largely separated their duties, with Andersson essentially writing only music and Ulvaeus only lyrics. Under the title Kristina från Duvemåla Kristina from Duvemåla, the show opened on October 7, 1995, with several additional Swedish productions and a recording through the end of the '90s. But since, unlike the ABBA music and Chess, the show was written in Swedish, not English, that was as far as things went for a while. Eventually, Andersson and Ulvaeus brought in Herbert Kretzmer, who had written the English adaptation of French composer Claude-Michel Schönberg's musical Les Misérables, resulting in a worldwide hit, and he and Ulvaeus created an English-language version of Kristina, which was given its premiere as a concert at Carnegie Hall in New York in September 2009. This recording is drawn from that performance. Helen Sjöholm, who created the title role in Sweden, and for whom the part was written, is again playing Kristina. She has a contralto voice reminiscent of Anni-Frid Lyngstad of ABBA, but sings in English with less of a Swedish accent. Andersson's tuneful music, while recognizable to anyone familiar with Chess, has little of the pop
ock sound of ABBA this time around, although he does throw in a little electric guitar here and there. Rather, his influences are classical and operatic. The show is also strongly suggestive of the musicals of Schönberg and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Indeed, Les Misérables is perhaps its nearest antecedent, especially in the big ballads sung by tenor Kevin Odekirk, who plays the tragic younger brother Robert, "Down to the Sea" and "Gold Can Turn to Sand." The story is not so much like opera as it is like soap opera, however, a kind of domestic melodrama about the travails of a struggling family and its friends. That can make the music seem heavy-handed at times, although Andersson does have some fun with what must be the only song ever written about "Lice" they infest the ship on the way over to America and on "American Man," the emigrants' first encounter with an atypical citizen of the new land. Louise Pitre, who starred in Andersson and Ulvaeus' Mamma Mia! on Broadway, has a juicy part as the reformed prostitute Ulrika, but ultimately it's Sjöholm who makes the strongest impression, clearly bringing the audience to its feet with her climactic ballad or, as they call it in the musical theater, the 11 o'clock number "You Have to Be There," in which Kristina addresses God. Kristina may or may not have a future on-stage, even in English, but it should be of interest to anyone who likes the music of the creative team from ABBA.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/4/2010
  • Label: Decca U.S.
  • UPC: 602527349817
  • Catalog Number: 001422802

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Paul Gemignani Conductor
The American Theatre Orchestra Performing Ensemble
Robert Ousley Vocals
Greg Stone Vocals
Louise Pitre Vocals
David Hess Vocals
Joy Hermalyn Vocals
Helen Sjöholm Vocals
Walter Charles Vocals
Russell Watson Vocals
Kevin Odekirk Vocals
Technical Credits
Benny Andersson Arranger, Composer, Producer, Orchestration
Anders Eljas Arranger, Orchestration
Björn Ulvaeus Lyricist
Anders Berglund Arranger, Orchestration
Orjan Fahlstrom Arranger, Orchestration
Björn Engelmann Mastering
Herbert Kretzmer Lyricist
Bernard Löhr Engineer
Lars Beijbom Arranger, Orchestration
Paul Chessell Artwork
Inga-Karin Eriksson Artwork
Lars Hedberg Arranger, Orchestration
Olov Helge Arranger, Orchestration
Magnus Lindén Arranger, Orchestration
Pär Mårtenson Arranger, Orchestration
Kenneth Olausson Arranger, Orchestration
Lars Rudolfsson Stage Direction
Peter Gary Engineer
Anthony Lalumia Recording Assistant
Lars G. Flinck Arranger, Orchestration
Jason Dibartollo Recording Assistant
Brian Flanzbaum Recording Assistant
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