Smorgasbord – ABBA to Australia, a Swedish Passion Project

Jenny & Tommie

Jenny Eriksson and Tommie Andersson, talking about Smorgasbord, the latest CD from The Marais Project, which reflects their musical heritage in Sweden

During the 70’s, when Abba the Swedish pop group were rocking the world causing everything Scandinavian to come under the spotlight, the Swedish Smorgasbord became very popular.

Then we knew it as a buffet meal of various hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, salads, casserole dishes, meats, cheeses, etc., which was easy to prepare and to put out to share with a copious amount of friends and family, especially in the great outdoors.

In this way the Smorgasbord became a popular activity down under – it went well with ABBA’s music, fashionable flares and the long hairstyles young people were wearing as they reflected their own inner creativity.

Smorgasbord basically means a great variety, so the term can be applied to many things, including a stunning collection of Swedish music.

Sweden's most successful group ABBA, when flares and smorgasbord's were all the go.

Sweden’s most successful group ABBA, when flares and smorgasbord’s were all the go.

On their CD masterminded by director of The Marais Project viola da gamba player Jenny Eriksson and her colleague on Theorbo and Baroque guitar Tommie Andersson, there is a wonderful range of repertoire, with all the tracks reflecting their Swedish heritage.

This includes a nod to ABBA in Tommie Andersson’s Baroque dance style arrangement of their number one hit Waterloo; Andersson, Ulvaeus and Andersson, Courante La Waterlô.

“We focused on the music we enjoyed,” Jenny Eriksson noted. “People ask us why an Australian CD of Swedish music?

Well why not? Art doesn’t need to be sensible” Jenny said. “All worthwhile music is a labour of love, and we both love this music!”

The Marais Project CD has been going great guns since released, and was recently selected “CD of the week” nationally on ABC Classic FM.

Jenny Marais Project

Jenny Eriksson and her beloved Viola da Gamba

This is indeed a very real Smorgasbord of sounds from Sweden, a country full of soundscapes like no other.

You can see ripples shimmering on a lake and shining snow crystals falling through the air as you sense the magic of this great forested land where winter snows melt musically into spring, and where literature is noble, of the first rank.

Joining the duo are Tenor Pascal Herrington, Flautist Melissa Farrow and on Baroque Violin Fiona Ziegler, helping them weave the musical stories that connect our cultures across the world.

The CD is compelling listening; must say it’s often playing as I work. The compositions chosen are full of charm and replete with incredibly beautiful phrasing in the truly wonderful arrangements by Andersson.

It is all about easy listening and is superbly performed. The four works by poet-musician of 18th-century, Carl Michael Bellman, whose parodic style was much admired in his day, are to my mind exceptional. Above all the recording honours the origins of the music, its many composers, as well as today’s musicians.

There are so many tracks that are special, especially those on which Melissa Farrow superbly plays her Baroque flute, an instrument of which I am very fond. Jenny is particularly proud of the selection. “We believe we can safely claim this repertoire has never been presented in Australia in this format. We have made no attempt to assemble a comprehensive historical overview of Swedish music.” said Jenny

Swedish Ambassador, HE Pär Ahlberger will officially launch the Smorgasbord CD on the 30th May at The Independent Theatre, Miller St, in North Sydney at the 1st Marais Project Concert of 2015.


Jenny Erikkson on viola da gamba and Tommie Andersson on Theorbo, courtesy The Marais Project

Tickets are available and it’s sure to be a happy event.

This year The Marais Project is only offering two major concerts, the second will present Marais’ long-neglected operas and will be held on the 16th August in the Recital Hall of Sydney Conservatorium.

Tommie Andersson has also completed arrangements for Låt till Far (Tune for Father) by Pers Erik Olsson (1912–1983), Födelsedagsvisa (Birthday Song) – Traditional, Gråtlåten (The Crying Tune) after Röjås Jonas (1921–1989), Gullklimpen (The Golden Nugget) by Timas Hans Hansson (1846–1916) and Traditional, Om sommaren sköna (In beautiful summer) Arr. Tommie Andersson

It also wouldn’t be a Marais Project album without featuring the great French composer himself – with a recording of French composer Marin Marais’ Suite No. 2 in G minor from Pieces en Trio.

Must say these all do appeal to my own sensibilities, which is no surprise, as I am a fan and follower of French Baroque music.

Tommie Andesrson Australia’s leading specialist in lutes and early guitars

Tommie Andesrson Australia’s leading specialist in lutes and early guitars

It has taken three years for Jenny and Tommie to bring the CD to fruition.

The result for all has been richly rewarding, but most especially for the listener who can enjoy exploring the contrasts in musical language that exists between all nations

The Marais Project is about showcasing the music of French composer Marin Marais in the 17th century, reflecting the popularity of the Viola da Gamba at that time. It has made a huge comeback in the last decade, with many groups now playing period instruments

Marais Project

Musicians of The Marais Project

Marin Marais was prolific both in life and music, having ‘22’ children while producing 500 works for the viola da gamba. This reflects that he wasn’t having much to do with the daily life of his offspring, in a world that was indeed patriarchal.

Jenny, who enjoys a long run when she can take the time, said it was “…much easier to run a marathon than to complete this project,”, which has taken some 15 years since the idea first emerged.

Patience is a virtue and along the way both Jenny and Tommy through The Marais Project and being involved with other groups and orchestras, have extended their repertoire way beyond the French Baroque.

Tommie Andersson also plays Marin Marais’s teacher Jean Baptiste Lully’s favourite instrument the Theorbo for the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, to great acclaim.

Jean-Baptiste Lully and his Viol

Jean-Baptiste Lully and his Viol

Tommie was born and grew up in Sweden and so his memories are all first hand, while Jenny is the granddaughter of an immigrant, who came to Australia during the 20’s.

Completing this album has indeed been a passionate pursuit for both Jenny and Tommie and it is available for download via iTunes or you can purchase a CD.

Watch Jenny and Tommie Talk about the making of the CD

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2015

The Marais Project 2015 Subscription Series


Smorgasbord CD





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