Sågskära - Orm
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Sågskära, a Swedish group that combines folk and medieval music in its repertoire, recently turned 25. They come from Småland, in the southern part of Sweden. This area, close to Denmark, has a wealth of stories and tunes from its own history. Founding member and fiddler Magnus Gustafsson is also a music collector and archivist, bringing a depth of choice to this unusual group.

Sågskära's founders first met when their hometown hired them to teach music and rhythm in a nursery school. Magnus Gustafsson, Marie Länne Persson and Gunilla Lund-Tobiasson enjoyed each other's company, and shared an interest in bringing tunes from Sweden's medieval history to life. They added more members, and many more instruments, to explore a new way of playing. Sometimes dubbed a Folk-Baroque style, Sågskara revisits the way rural musicians would have played the stylish music for royal courts and titled homes. Playing various forms of the fiddle, hurdy-gurdy, shawm, cittern, mandolin, drums, and nyckelharpa, they match the tonality of the past centuries with fresh arrangements for the 21st century. Their significant contribution to the world folk music community was recognized when they were given the European Folk Arts Prize from the Alfred Töpfer Foundation in Germany.

Orm is their 6th album. The title tune is a folk ballad, about a snake that has been put under a spell that can only be broken by a young maiden. Stories about humans transformed into mythical spirits abound on this recording. "The Swan" was originally a rhyming game from Västergötland. Its text describes a mother swan washing her young, as a reminder of the sun's power to bring light that ends the winter. Marie Länne Persson sings the tune and plays the harp, with Anders Svensson on an octave fiddle. In Sågskära's setting, a folk rhyme is as grand as if it were part of Benjamin Britten's "Ceremony of Carols."

This group sometimes makes jokes about not practicing enough. However there is no hint of sloppiness here. They project gorgeous music without excess effort or false emotion. These superb musicians from Småland should be better known - meet them by listening to Orm. - Patrice George

CD available from cdRoots

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cd cover

"Den Lillas Testamente"

Available from cdRoots


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