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AKLEJA - Wasser Und Erde  

AKLEJA - Wasser Und Erde  
Private Label  

Nyckelharpa and guitar, this German duo play on the boundary between Scandinavian folk and acoustic easy-listening. Wasser Und Erde is a pleasant showcase for some fine melodies, several written by nyckelharpista Regina Kunkel and multi-instrumentalist Björn Kaidel, but nothing here is either technically or musically challenging. The opening gentle polonaise, Sind die Rüben Rieb, comes from a Baltic enclave within sight of Denmark, and it's followed by an attractively modulated Kunkel schottische which reuses the distinctive phrase from Le Canal En Octobre or L'Air Mignonne. Kunkel's celebratory waltz, Frauke, and her tribute to the Felsenmeer, in the Wental in Baden-Württemberg, close to Bartholomä, are both stately and graceful. The more energetic Polska Efter Gustav Wallin and Prinz Peter Bei Den Schweinen come from the traditions of Sweden and Saxony respectively. All are expertly accompanied by Björn on guitar, bouzouki or ukulele, and he also turns his attentions to the nyckelharpa for some of his own compositions. Björn's Midnattslektionen is one of my favourites here, and the album finishes on another: the carefully arranged Ziemetshauser 33 from an old Bavarian manuscript. Akleja's website is certainly worth a visit for nyckelharpa fans - it has lots of videos and, of course, links to this CD. 

Alex Monaghan


This review appeared in Issue 129 of The Living Tradition magazine