Benedicte Maurseth is one of the Norway’s leading players of the Hardanger fiddle (she comes from the region where it originated; you might say it’s in her DNA). The instrument is similar to a violin, but with four or five tuned sympathetic strings that resonate and deliciously eerie depth to the music. For, this her seventh album, she’s completely solo (apart from some birdsong on one cut), taking traditional music, tunes associated with different fiddlers, and adding her own voice and ideas to them in variations and improvisations. It’s beautifully meditative and utterly immersive; you don’t listen to the disc; it draws you in until you’re subsumed in the music.
Very few musicians possess that gift; it goes beyond any kind of technical talent to someone who’s caught up in it all herself. She leads and we follow a pace behind. The music is alive, it breathes and changes with none of the sterility of a set arrangement. And while the Hardanger fiddle can sound quite raw, there a tough beauty to it, as well. Mystery can be an awful word to use. It raises expectations so high that they might be impossible to reach. But some can do it, people as varied as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Miles Davis.
Nothing is rushed here; ideas are teased out and explored. And sometimes there’s breathless delicacy, such as on “Og Fargane Skiftar På Fjorden,” where her voice sings over the top, little more than a whisper. Calling this a folk album of any kind doesn’t do it justice. It deserves so much more than a box. - Chris Nickson
Find the artist online: www.maurseth.net