Peter Puma Hedlund & Company
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Peter Puma Hedlund & Company
Another Way
RPM Music (

cd cover Granted, there's not much in the way of fame and fortune to be had playing the nyckelharpa. Outside of Sweden and a few select circles in other parts of the world, the drony keyed fiddle is one of those rare, esoteric pleasures. If anyone is going to come close to grabbing what little acclaim there is to playing the thing, it's Peter Puma Hedlund. He has won the Nyckelharpa World Championship title (yes, there is such a thing) twice, in 1992 and in 2000. And deservedly so. His technique is confident, his tone and phrasing sure-footed. He has been recording a long time, either solo or with his long-time comrades Mats Andersson on clarinet and keyboards and Sven Fredriksson on guitar and accordion. His first 'solo' recording was in 1992.

On this new release, he gathers six more musicians around him to beef up the sound. Sometimes the collaboration works and sometimes it feels like trying to button up a too tight jacket. The addition of Frankie Lane on dobro gives many of the tracks a country/bluegrass tinge that is fine if you like that sort of thing. Lane is a fine player but the styles just don't always want to go together. Olle Bohm's percussion gets a little heavy-handed and marchy on a couple of tracks, but he adds some nice subtle touches on others. "Fan på Gräsö" is an example of the band trying to be all things to all people. A perfectly fine traditional polska gets overwhelmed by swooping Dobro and overbearing drums. Things are most successful when they don't try to snazz it up to much. "Novemberpolska" and "Mungalåten" are nice examples of this - simple tunes that are allowed to stand on their own merit with little in the way of bells and whistles. "Älgmarschen (Moose March)" is one instance where the melding of cultures works. Leo Rickard contributes some fine Uilleann pipe playing and the dry rattle of Bohm's Scots highland drumming is the perfect touch for this piece. The lesson here, I suppose, is choose your weapons wisely. - Peggy Latkovich

CD available at cdRoots

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