Alfred and Mattias Bismo - Hans Haugen
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Alfred and Mattias Bismo
Felespel fr Skjk

Hans Haugen
Felespel fr Susendal
both titles from Ta:lik (

Most of Norwegian label Ta:lik's releases consist of hardanger fiddle music. These two albums, however, represent old fiddle-traditions from areas north of the hardanger region.

cd cover Twins Alfred (1918-1988) and Mattias Bismo (born 1918) are from Skjk, in Gudbransdalen. The CD contains 25 tunes, but oddly enough, there are no tracks when they are playing together. Instead we get to hear solid, intensive and very danceable music from Alfred, while his brother contributes playfulness and finesse on his tracks. The tunes are short, but beautiful and fascinating, especially those in the minor keys, that have a haunting quality. "Nordavinden," is just as piercing as the cold northern wind can be. This tune clearly shows Alfred's masterful, robust bowing techique.

Hans Haugen (1900-1973) lived in Susendal, in northern Norway, an area that has been a "white spot" on the folk music map. He was recorded by NRK, Norwegian radio, in 1955. We get to hear selected tunes from that recording session, where waltzes and polsdances, also in 3/4, dominate. Haugen's high tempos will definitely stand out, as well as his ability to play even, steady and clear despite the high pulse. His tempos and the marked bowing style give an energetic quality to Hans Haugen's music.

These recordings were made between 1955 and 1984, and are of varying quality. Due to this and the lack of variety in terms of harmonies and arrangements, these CD's are best suited for those already interested in Scandinavian fiddle traditions. When one is knowledgeable of the fiddling in Scandinavia, these recordings are excellent, not only because of the compelling music, but also because they are fine examples of how much fiddling styles vary from place to place, and person to person. - Staffan Jonsson

CDs available from cdRoots

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