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60 Fiddlers
FFS 0502

Subtitled "Nordic and Celtic traditional fiddle music played by 60 Fiddlers from Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Shetland and Norway at the Launching of the Viking Longship, Roskilde 2004" you're not really left in any doubt as to what you are getting. I also note that, despite their significant Viking heritage, the English are specifically excluded! The reason for having 60 fiddlers is that this represents the number of oarsmen that the ship used - the fiddlers each sit in one of the rowing berths to play a special tune, repairing to the quay for the remainder of the proceedings.

But is it more "Da Forty Fiddlers" or like the Scottish Fiddle and Accordion Orchestras which have many's the time sent me screaming to the solace of the bar? Very much the former I'm pleased to say. There are some really fine tunes here and the 60 fiddlers play with impressive drive and lift - obviously inspired by the occasion. There are solo, duo and other smaller ensemble pieces in-between the mighty roar of the full ensemble, with some excellent playing - although after the initial surge of adrenalin, some of the items start to lose impetus after a while, not helped by the shortness and disparity of many of the tracks. The CD also includes extraneous bits of the event - at the end of the first track or two, the tune is followed by a pretty authentic sounding Viking shout - which is then spoiled by a chorus of embarrassed tittering - not something I want to hear on repeated playings. I think this sums up the whole project - a terrific memento of what was obviously an awesome event, with some terrific playing and tunes, but a few longeurs as well.

Paul Burgess

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This album was reviewed in Issue 67 of The Living Tradition magazine.