Nyckelharpa Orchestra
Northside (

US cd cover The key fiddle of Uppland with up to ten strings ably projects a complex harmonic voice, by one player or a pair, that is especially well suited to rouse heart and feet. But the combination of alto, tenor, bass and contrabass versions, in addition to the standard nyckelharpa, makes a compelling case for the rewards of pure listening. To the jaunty tempo irregularities of polka, waltz and march rhythms, this sextet adds moments of the slow chromatic chord, pizzicato and accumulating instrument strategies for the interested ear. One view of this intriguing new recording might be like a camera that dollies back to take in a larger frame of reference. The typical Nyckelharpa Orchestra arrangement on "Byss-Calle" reveals not only the beauty of the interpreted dance tune, but something more: the barn, the field, the church, the window of snowflakes; the very environs that call to dancing or celebration. The listener becomes the wallflower with the mug of beer surveying the pageant all round. Dance if you must but the sight of it is plenty entertaining, the sonorities worth a listener's immersion in this alone.

All of the music here is by or attributed to the legendary Carl Ersson Bossa aka "Byss-Calle" (1783-1847). The liner note writer Jan Holmstrom has gone out of his way to paint an almost mystical portrait of this obviously charismatic and powerful virtuoso, with tales of "supernatural acts" exacted on rivals at wedding gigs, for example.

Swedish cd cover The Nyckelharpa Orchestra perform less like paranormal beings and more like superb musical craftsmen on Byss-Calle. This is not risky, avante-garde work with logic-defying, "non-consensual world" experiments, it is homage that follows the inherent value of classic tunes still popular in Sweden 2000, but wrought with royal attention to detail and as inventive with color. If you prefer your nyckelharpa 'in a chair', these are excellent impressions perfectly balanced with respect for their original intended purpose; dances and processionals. As fantastic as the stories are, this flattering offering to a strange fiddle 'magician' of yore attests more to vivacity than the unexplicable. - Steve Taylor

Song: "Bodin's C Major Polska"
(c)2000 Northside (p)Drone Musik, Sweden / used by permission

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