Various Artists
Nordisk Sang: Music of Norway

with Kirsten Braten-Berg, Pernille Anker, Hans Brimi, Torleiv Bolstad and Eivind Groven a.o.


A uniquely dark, gentle, austere, strikingly powerful disc of distant intimacy, cold warmth, and other oxymorons of the borders linking opposites.



The astonishing purity of the vocal music heard here is beyond description; it displays both virtuosity and utter simplicity. The marriage of voice and fiddle heard on some of these selections seems magical, but it goes beyond that; the Norwegian word 'trolsk' (troll-like) might describe it better. The immense capacity for poetry which is possible in the music of the 'hardingfele' (hardanger fiddle) has as its source a profound simplicity and stalwartness. The drone-based music of this tradition seems to stand outside historical time as far as Europe is concerned. It arose in northern Europe in the seventeenth century, but only in Norway did it develop and find a solid place for itself in a unique folk culture. The music seems very ancient, yet it is really the product of the modern age (17-19th centuries). Although there are connections to traditions in the Scottish isles - even today - and there were similar instruments found in Germany in the seventeenth century, only in the western valleys of this rugged, northward-stretching land has this enchanted instrument thrived (although the music almost died around the turn of the centry and then experienced a remarkable twentieth century revival).

Norway, despite its modern industrial society, clings to its folk traditions tenaciously. One would have to go to Eastern Europe, the Balkans, to find another European country where folk traditions in music thrive in a contemporary setting with relatively little corruption. In particular, the last twenty years have seen a revitalization of traditional music in Norway. A number of younger musicans have sought out older musicians of their parents' and grandparents' generations to learn from them; they have also reinterpreted and rearranged the music in new ways.

The musicians featured on this album are among the most renowned in Norway. Kirsten Braten-Berg and her accompanists belong to the younger generation of performers who have not only kept a song tradition alive, but have also rejuvenated it through new and unusual arrangements. Sometimes they collaborate with older musicians as demonstrated here by the duets between singer Pernille Anker and violinist Hans Brimi (born 1917). Torleiv Bolstad (1915-1979) made his only professional recording just two years before he died; the three pieces incuded here are testimony to his mastery of the 'hardingfele'. Eivind Groven (1901-1977) was a remarkable musicologist, composer and virtuoso of many instruments, including the natural scale 'seljefloyte' (willow bark flute); he also designed the non-tempered organ heard on 'Kivlemoyane'.


Track List

1. Tveitanvise 0:36
2. Blå Tonar Fra Lom 2:54
3. Svein I Sy' Garde 2:17
4. Jenta I Saueflokken 2:58
5. Helemo Og Nykkjen 4:57
6. Smørligråen 2:00
7. Sylfest Mork 1:34
8. To Bånsullar Etter 1:58
9. Thomaslukkud'n Pa 3:25
10. Trumpen Hass Trond 2:10
11. Kjoeringkjegla 1:00
12. Bånsull 0:53
13. Tirili Tovann 3:27
14. Min Kvedarlund 5:32
15. Kivlemøyane 2:28
16. Våjevise 2:36
17. Nils Og Jens Og Gjeidaug 3:30
18. Budeiesull Frå Brimisætra 3:39
19. Seljefløytetone 0:28

Total: 49:30


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