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Go Danish Folk Music Productions GO 0705

Never heard of them? Me neither, but they're definitely worth hearing. Quick intro: Danish fiddle and guitar, world famous in Copenhagen, joined here by Eileen Ivers, Karen Tweed, Natalie Haas, Ale Moller, Niall Keegan, Alasdair Fraser, Le Vent Du Nord and various Nordic musicians for an "H&H and Friends" album. Like a Scandinavian Phil & Aly without the jokes (no bad thing). WWW.HHDuo.DK will tell you more. Feast is almost all Danish music, but at times the guest influence is strong enough to disguise this. It's also striking how close some of the Danish material is to traditions from Scotland, England and even Canada: emigration is an amazing musical force.

Haugaard & Hoirup have arranged, composed and selected fifteen tracks for this album, including some excellent traditional tunes and some catchy new pieces. The brisk waltz Vindmoller is the first highlight, Haugaard's ringing strings over a pulsating guitar rhythm, with Ale Moller adding harmonica and bombarde. The next noteworthy track is the title tune, a Hoirup composition, plus an old Danish reel from Funen, served up by Le Vent Du Nord with Quebec step-dancing and all the trimmings. This one definitely doesn't have "Danish" written all over it. The same applies to Musiker Mortensens Reels, two tunes from a Danish collection but with a strong Scottish flavour emphasised by Alasdair Fraser's fiddle. As ever, Natalie Haas does wonders with her cello accompaniment.

In over an hour of music, there are just two songs. The first is stirringly delivered in Swedish by Sofia Christensen, the vocalist from Groupa. The second comes twelve tracks later, Kaereste Min Moder, a Danish Klezmer number from Channe Nussbaum: the melody is familiar from The Klezmatics and others, but the vocals are something special and Haugaard's fiddle is more than up to the demands of this genre. In between, there are vocal contributions from Le Vent Du Nord and the duo Karen Mose and Helene Blum, in the form of mouth music from Quebec and Denmark respectively.

I should also mention the two tracks which are pure Haugaard & Hoirup. Both are based on well-known old Danish melodies, a pair of polkas and a waltz, beautifully presented, to give a good idea of what lies in the duo's four previous recordings. Den Sodeste Vals is a breathtaking air, up there with the best of them, and the second polka is a cracker too. So if you fancy a bit of Danish with your morning coffee, give these guys a listen, either with their friends on Feast or on their own.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 66 of The Living Tradition magazine.