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Trad Records TRAD013 

Belgian accordionist and composer Hartwin Dhoore has performed across Europe and North America solo and with different bands and projects. He moved to Estonia in 2015, a place that inspired his 2019 album Kodu (‘home’ in Estonian) and these nine original instrumental compositions influenced by its landscape, nature and people.

Supporting Hartwin’s diatonic accordion and harmonium in this new trio format are Estonians Sofia-Liis Kose (violin) and Carlos Liiv (acoustic and electric guitars), both of whom also add wordless vocal contributions for harmonic and melodic enrichment. Together they deftly demonstrate the surprising depth and creativity realisable by three musicians sharing an empathetic and intuitive feel for sophisticated and skilled interplay in melody and rhythms. Indeed, there’s an entrancing wintry video for Labürint (Labyrinth), mostly aerial in its perspective, that aptly metaphorises the trio’s creativity in crafting musical patterns.

Precisely played and recorded, this is a very eclectic work that certainly draws on traditional European folk music (northern especially) with classical grace and overtones. Markedly progressive and contemporary in feel, deploying several time signatures and artfully nuanced genre references, it’s music that’s intimate and intense in its melodic content and cleverly composed with variations in pacing and dynamic, mood and movement.

Valge Valdus is ‘white light’, the gentle parting track (the subject of another very evocative niveous landscape video), but there’s nothing colourless about this group’s subtly shaded, tinted and textured soundcaping which will repay repeated meditative immersion for the deeper appreciation of its grace and beauty.

Kevin T Ward


This review appeared in Issue 143 of The Living Tradition magazine