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GO Danish Folk GO0616

A trio from the Danish island of Funen, taking the island's Latin name, Fionia Stringband combines two young musicians with a veteran fiddler from the famous group V Poulsens Kapel. Jes Kroman has been touring the world with Danish bands since the early eighties, and has teamed up with fellow fiddler Michael Graubaek and pianist Theis Langlands to deliver some refreshingly unpolished but still extremely well played traditional music. The mix of village dance fiddling and conservatoire style works brilliantly, leaving both fiddlers the space to experiment and fool around with the tunes: Rough N' Ready is exactly that, but is also full of humour and sensitivity - although the delicate Tinus Vals probably doesn't play to their strengths. More robust waltzes, polkas, hopsas and other dance forms are definitely their thing, and the twin fiddles pump these out with gusto, ably supported by keyboards, with an occasional blast of brass from guests Anders Ringgaard and Rasmus Fribo. Take the opening Jørgen Murers Polka, sounding like something the English barndance scene might have enjoyed in the 1970s - Umps & Dumps perhaps, or the Old Mole.

In fact, there are quite a few echoes of English music here: both Trekantet Sløjfe Fra Thy and Polka Fra Laesø are no strangers to Suffolk musicians, albeit under different names, and without their distinctive Danish letters. Ebba Polka is likely to be recognised as an American old-time tune, and the Lang Linken classic Tåsingevalsen may also be familiar to a wide audience. Most of the material here is quintessentially Danish though, and the joy of hearing new tunes is compounded by the many smiles caused by the arrangements from these three creative musicians. Blaring low notes, copious glissando, and outrageous rhythms add to the fun on Rough N' Ready: listen to Mathilde Polka Mazurka or Gammel Hopsa. This recording finishes with a beautiful version of a Carl Nielsen air, written by Funen's most famous fiddler in the 1920s, just to show that Fionia Stringband can take their music seriously too. Rough N' Ready - or in Danish Råt For Usødet - will appeal to any fan of eclectic fiddle music, and it's perfect for dancers too! 

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 118 of The Living Tradition magazine.