Mari Eggen and Helene Hoye - Glod (Glow)
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Mari Eggen and Helene Høye
2L, Norway (

cd cover Fiddlers Mari Eggen and Helene Høye, from the Gudbrandsdal region of north-eastern Norway, set out to share their common love of traditional dance music from the region on their second CD, Glød. The disc's packaging, with a volcanic red-orange "glow," hints at the warmth and color of the music contained inside.

The first cut, "Bråtåseterhallingen," a halling, is full of the devilish energy implied by its legend: that the first fiddler to play it learned the tune from the devil himself. Tales of the devil, of mountain spirits, ghosts, and other folklore are intricately woven into the music played by Norwegian fiddlers, so almost every tune has a story.

Gudbrandsdal and other northern regions of Norway use regular violins (also called flat fiddles) as the primary dance instrument. In central and southern Norwegian valleys, the indigenous drone-stringed hardanger fiddle is the primary traditional dance instrument. The music of the hardingfele-playing regions and the "flat fiddle" regions have many similarities. In Gudbrandsdal, the springleik is the primary folk dance of the region, with a driving , slightly uneven 3/4 rhythm. The halling is a quick dance in 2/4 that includes acrobatic, athletic competion between the dancers. Waltzes, wedding marches, and lullabies are also part of the fiddler's functional repertoire. Both hardanger fiddlers and flat fiddlers play with double-string fingerings and bowings, making one fiddle play two parts, and resonate with overtones. Special tunings for the fiddle strings create modal tonalities and changing moods unique to Nordic fiddle music.

Eggen and Høye have been performing together for over a decade, winning several awards in national folk music competitions. Both women have been active performers and teachers of folk music. Their new CD is both more traditional, and more original than their first. Arrangements in their recent collaboration have a mature complexity with contrasting rhythms and complimentary polyphonic harmonies.

The selection of tunes on Glød come from the masters of Gudbrandsdal, as well as original pieces. "Gammelsteinomen," a springleik, honors Hans W. Brimi, the best-know fiddler of the region, who inspired a younger generation to keep the "flat fiddle" tradition alive. "Kong Oscars Vals," a waltz from Hjalmar Fjellhammer, comes from another mentor of an earlier generation, with one of the lush waltzes that seem to be a Norwegian specialty. This one was probably named for King Oscar II (1829-1907), whose coronation procession passed through Gudbrandsdalen. "Haugebrura," a processional composed for a friend's wedding, and "Bånsull til Elise," a lullaby for her daughter, show Mari Eggen's capacity for telling tales with her fiddle. Other new tunes in traditional style include "Lerka," an original springleik by Høye, and "Måndagsmårråvals," a waltz that is named after the Monday it was composed, by Eggen. Classical music fans might be reminded of Norway's most famous composer, Edvard Greig, who used traditional fiddle tunes in the "Peer Gynt Suite." It's all a great listen for anyone who loves traditional fiddle from any genre. - Patrice George

Available at cdRoots

Audio: "Bråtåseterhallingen" (trad) ©2003 2L, Norway

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