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Reviews: Fiolministeriet, Fiolministeriet; Habbadam, Still Young

Om nom nom.

Fiolministeriet
Fiolministeriet
[Go Danish GO0511]

Habbadam
Still Young
[Go Danish GO1510]

Two new Danish recordings by trios that share a common member are prime examples of the exciting music that’s being performed today in Denmark.

Fiolministeriet, or The Fiddle Ministry, is a string trio comprising Kirstine Sand (violin, vocals), Kirstine Elise Pedersen (cello, vocals), and Ditte Fromseier Mortensen (fiddle, viola, vocals). They draw much of their material from 18th century song collections and their home islands of Fuen and Bornholm. They have a powerful and rhythmic sound with the cello adding a solid underpinning not usually found in performances of traditional material. At times the arrangements sound quite classical in nature, like on “Gottlob Minuet”; at other times, they sound traditional with the two violins playing in harmony. “Victoria” is a quiet piece that features Sand and plucked stings on the cello. “Seaquins” is a track that unites traditional tunes from Finland and Scotland, and the vocal tracks show all three as accomplished singers. A delightfully different and enlighten interpretation of traditional Danish folk music. [www.fiolministeriet.dk]

Still Young is Habbadam’s second recording, the title in reference to the fact that even though the three members are all approaching the age of 30, they are still referred to as “The Young Trio.” Ditte Fromseier Mortensen from Fiolministeriet plays fiddle and sings; Hanna Wiskari Griffiths plays soprano and alto saxophone and sings; and Sigurd Hockings plays guitar, harmonica, and jews harp and sings as well. Mortensen grew up on the Danish island of Bornholm, and much of the group’s music is drawn from the island musical traditions. It’s Griffiths’s saxophone that gives Habbadam its distinct sound. There’s something about Nordic music that lends itself to the saxophone, and it works perfectly in duet with the fiddle on tracks like “Brumian” or “Molvals.” Guitarist Hockings is the wild card. Along with his understated yet accomplished guitar work (on tracks like “Til Maren-Jette”), he adds touches of Jew’s harp on “Brumian” and harmonica on “Gogen” that bolster the overall sound. The two women sing lead, with their duet on “Lyngbakka-Lena” being especially nice. Andeas Ralsgard plays flute on two tracks that lend them a Celtic sound. [www.habbadam.dk]

Both these recordings have attractive packaging and liner notes in English.

—Jim Lee (Simi Valley, CA)

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