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GO' Danish Folk Music (www.gofolk.dk)

Last year in these pages I reviewed the string quartet album Waltz With Me from the Norwegian fiddler and composer Annbjørg Lien. She took a traditional string quartet - two violins, viola, and cello - and gave it a distinctly northern sound, composing with traditional Norwegian music in mind.

Fiolministeriet (the Fiddle Ministry) from Denmark end up in a similar musical space but come via a different route. This string trio - Kirstine Sand on violin, Ditte Fromseier Mortensen on violin and viola, and Kirstine Elise Pedersen on cello - take traditional music from Denmark and use their classical training to bring together the best of the dance hall and the concert hall.

Some pieces seem ready-made for the concert hall. "Hedevigs" based on traditional Danish tunes, spins dark and heavy, and is breathtaking in its beauty. I imagine these melodies coming from the long, dark Nordic winters with relatives gathered near the fire to hear the family fiddler play these melancholy tunes. This is in contrast to the dance tunes like "Æ Lam" and the "Rewentlow Set" which are not meant for quiet contemplation. These make you want to find a partner and dance the steps that have gone together with this music for generations.

Much of this records sounds exactly like I imagined a classically-trained Danish string trio using traditional source material would sound. Then there are surprises! "Katten og Vandalen," Cats and Vandals, is eery; it made for perfect Halloween music at my house. And "Seaquins" which is based on traditional material from Finland and Scotland has a sea chanty character and a propulsive drive. There are no words to "Seaquins," but if there were I wouldn't be surprised to find the lyrics quite bawdy.

By taking wonderful folk melodies and shaping them with classical skill, Fiolministeriet has produced a remarkable first CD. This will appeal to fans of traditional Nordic music and to lovers of string quartets. It's perfect for anyone who longs for the company of friends and family on long, cold winter evenings, for anyone who is eager to share in both contemplation and celebration. - Greg Harness

CD available from cdRoots

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"Fredericia Pirvals"


CD available from cdRoots

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