Songs From a Secret Garden



Year: 1995
Universal Music Norway

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Secret Garden’s debut album after their momentous win of the European Melody Grand Prix in 1994. Upon the release of this album, composer Rolf Løvland wrote the following – “Somewhere within us all there is a secret garden. A garden in which we can seek refuge when times are rough, or retire to in joy or contemplation. For years I have visited my own secret garden in search of organic harmony and melody. The songs on this CD are some of what I’ve found”.

“In 1994 I met an artist who through the soulful simplicity of her instrument gave my songs a voice. She is the famed Irish violinist Fionnuala Sherry. Together we have tended the secret garden – and the crop is here for your picking. It is my sincere wish that by uncovering some of our secrets, you will pay a visit to your own garden”. – Rolf Lovland

Tracklist, Lyrics & Purchase

Selected Audio Clips
(lo res)

  • Nocturne

    Nocturne, written in 1992, is a simple melody inspired by traditional moods. It’s possible the combination of mood and simplicity has made it so universally popular, appealing to audiences from Japan to Iceland. Yes, presenting it to an audience of four hundred million people in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1995 was an awesome risk for Secret Garden. Winning it meant a fantastic launch. Nocturne was the start of a special musical relationship, and represents the beginning of the Secret Garden history. We will always be grateful and inspired by the beautiful voice of Gunnhild Tvinnereim, and the famous 24 words by Petter Skavlan.

    Lyrics by Petter Skavlan

    La dagen få
    sin hvile nå
    og natten vil våke for den,
    Se mørket må
    engang forgå
    så natten kan føde en dag.

    Now let the day
    Just slip away
    So the dark night
    May watch over you
    Though darkness lay
    It will give way
    When the dark night
    Delivers the day

  • Pastorale

    Norwegian and Irish culture and traditions are unified in this piece as a kind of Secret Garden synthesis. Pastorale refers in a way to a spiritual landscape. Music is a link of communication between people. It makes us understand and discover when words are not enough. Music can also be a guide to find our own sources, and to put names to our own emotional landscapes.

  • Song From A Secret Garden

    The idea of Secret Garden is one that everyone can relate to. We all have landscapes inside us, secret rooms where feelings and impressions grow as a little garden. Some talk about it, write poems or letters, paint, or even take a walk to reflect over life. We all have our own way. But what is common to us, is a strong emotional feeling that is an essential part of our nature. My way of dealing with this is through music, and everything I write comes from my secret garden. This simple piece had no other name than “Pianopiece in C minor” for many years. But when the Secret Garden project evolved, I felt this piece could express the essence of my ideas–the simple melody straight from the heart, expressed through Fionnuala’s soulful, vulnerable and naked violin playing.

  • Sigma

    Sigma was originally a piano piece I wrote in a melancholic night during a production I worked on in Bergen. The title, taken from the actual name of the studio, has stayed with us ever since. Not knowing how to include Sigma in the Secret Garden project, Fionnuala suggested adding a sung counter-melody, almost Gregorian in style. David Agnew wrote the Irish lyrics. With the lovely voice of the 11 year old Rhonan Sugure and the Irish National Chamber Choir, the recording of Sigma occurred with a very strong spiritual mood.

    Lyrics by David Agnew

    Bim ar thoir an comhartha
    Scaoileas m’anam saor
    Caithfidh mo chroi a
    bheith glan
    Roimh siochan theacht crum

    Ni leanfaidh Brón
    Is Béim sásta le mo ghrá
    Guím comhartha
    chabhreoidh liom
    Mé a chomhlíonadh

    Bim ar thoir an comhartha
    Scaoileas m’anam saor
    Caithfidh mo chroi a
    bheith glan
    Roimh siochan theacht crum

    Sí an ghaoth do ghuth
    Sí an bháisteach do dheora
    Grian, do chroí ar las
    Do spiorad mo shlánú

    English translation
    I search for the sign
    That will set my soul free
    My heart must be pure
    So that I can find peace

    My grief cannot last forever
    My love will be fulfilled
    I pray a sign will help me
    Be all that I can be

    Repeat first verse

    The wind is your voice
    The rain is your tears
    Your burning heart
    And spirit is my salvation

    © 1995 Universal Music Norway / Blue Dandelion Publishers, IMRO

  • Papillon

    This is a somewhat impressionistic piece based on major 7ths and 9ths. The spirits of Erik Satie and Claude Debussy are present. The title Papillon (French for butterfly) also leans in that direction. This piece was written during a studio recording session in Iceland in 1994, and is perhaps the music I like best in the collection from a composer’s point of view. The phrases in the descending melody line are telling a story, and should not only be played as a broken chord. The music should be simple and delicate just like a butterfly dancing from one flower to another.

  • Serenade To Spring

    This piece was written in 1991 and recorded by Elisabeth Andreasson on her CD, Stemninger. The vocal version called “Danse mot vår,” has since been frequently performed. We included it as an instrumental version in the album, with the violin performing the vocal part. A beautifully played violin can be just as expressive as the human voice.

  • Atlantia

    This piece was written in 1976 and is the oldest one in this collection. Its inspiration stems from the modal tonality found in the music of Grieg and other composers influenced by their own cultures. Atlantia is colored by Norwegian traditional music, and in the recording of it we see that tradition interact with the very similar Irish tradition. We emphasized that similarity with the use of the low whistle and the Uileann pipes. Is it the Atlantic Ocean that connects the two cultures? Is Atlantia that Norwegian Viking ship sailing through the early mist into Dublin harbor? In a way I can’t explain, I feel a musical relationship to Irish music.

  • Heartstrings

    We have invisible heart-strings between us. Our hearts are woven into these fine and sensitive threads that tie us together. These strings can only be seen with our hearts. But sometimes we step on these strings because we are not careful enough and that causes strong pain. Heartstrings are about missing someone and the invisible strings of our hearts.

  • Adagio

    Adagio was written in Spain while working on a project in 1988. This is quite natural for me, as I have always had a great urge to define my own creative identity while working for other artists. A creative balance. Bach, the great master, inspires Adiago. So often I’ve been taken by the strong melancholy in Bach’s slow movements. Adiago was originally released in a piano book called “Nine Pianopieces for Maria and Other Children” in 1989 with the title “Where the Words End.” Music is to me stronger than words and when I can’t find words to express my feelings, I use music.

  • The Rap

    The Rap is a strange story. I originally wrote it as a Norwegian traditional tune in 4/4 time. Fionnuala Sherry and I recorded a demo of it in my home studio. It was the last song that late evening and it had no title. Fionnuala said, “Let’s do the wrap,” and ever since the title has been The Rap. One night during the recording of the CD in Iceland, I “heard” the tune in 5/4 time in a dream. When I woke up the next morning, I was singing it the way I had dreamt it. The subconscious had been making a successful twist and all of a sudden, The Rap began to swing. We welcomed the Irish influence with the use of whistles, pipes and drums. The rhythm seems complicated, changing from 5/4 to 6/4, but I’m sure you find the melody quite natural and easy to “sing,” without having to count!

  • Chaconne

    The word “chaconne” refers to a boroque dance form, a melody moving to a constant bass figure or ostinato. This Chaconne meets none of thesis requirements. But the poetic sound of the word and a strong baroque feeling is the background for the title. The French Suites by Bach have made a strong impression on me, and some elements in Chaconne remind me of them. Chaconne was written in 1994.

  • Cantoluna

    Here the “Italian emotions” is awakened. Sentimentality under the Italian moonlight. Feelings are sometimes suppressed and we are afraid to show them. I am very fascinated by the old black and white silent movies because the actors could only show emotions, no dialogue. I could envision a movie like that when Cantoluna was written. The title itself is a very free construction of words made of canto, which means “song” in Italian, and luna, which means “moon.” On the recording we used the mandolin and the clarinet to let the romantic, Italian feeling through. People often ask what kind of music Secret Garden is. Is it classical, Norwegian or Irish traditional music, world music or new age? I don’t know. I only know that the music comes straight from the heart, and contains elements of all this. Some even says it sounds like film music because it’s so visual. That opinion is the closest I come to a classification, because I often see a story when I write music. Maybe it could be called “music to a film never shown?”

  • Ode to Simplicity

    This song expresses everything I think is important to my music: simplicity. To allow melody to be naked and fragile, one that can’t be wrapped or covered, is a very difficult thing. It requires more courage and strength to achieve the simple than the complex, as you painfully have to submit to the powers of nature, and open up. Simplicity was written at the time of my daughter’s departure to study abroad for one year. There are a lot of emotional undertones to this piece, which we certainly laid bare through the starkness of the melody. Performing Simplicity is very special to both Fionnuala and I, as it reflect the strong elements that have helped create Secret Garden.

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