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Mere Records MERE018

Nordfjord, in western Norway, is a large region with varied traditions, some predating the spread of Hardanger fiddles from further south. Although many tunes were written down by local musicians, they have largely fallen out of use. Fiddler Britt Pernille Frøholm has attempted to recreate the sound of Nordfjord on this album, around 20 typical pieces, mostly dance music and mostly one tune per track. She plays Hardanger fiddles and a regular fiddle: the entire CD is solo unaccompanied fiddle, technically impressive and highly rhythmic, as you might imagine the best local fiddlers would play for dancing in the 19th or early 20th century.

There's an eerie wintry sound to the Hardanger fiddle with its sympathetic strings, whether on the opening pair of very old dance tunes or the psalm tune, Glemmer Gud Smaa Ravneunger. I may have some of the details wrong as the sleevenotes are only in Norwegian, but it seems Ms Frøholm plays music for a number of local dance types: springar, reinlendar, round dances and long dances. There is also the melancholy air, Farvel Til Nordfjord, and a couple of tunes written for the imported waltz. Britt Pernille plays several striking melodies here: Reinlendar Etter John Øvreide, a couple of "troll-style" springar tunes, and the final wedding march from Hornindal at the eastern end of Nordfjord. There's only one piece which seems familiar, the rhythmic Fjelljom which is very similar to a polska played by Faroese group Spflimenninir M Hoydxlum: the rest is all new and exciting, and well worth a listen if you can find a copy. 

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 122 of The Living Tradition magazine.