(Caprice, 2001)

Draupner's first album is one for fiddle fans. Henning Andersson (fiddle), Gorgen Antonsson (fiddle, five-stringed fiddle) and Tomas Lindberg (guitar, mandola) are the group; Lars Ost was originally a member but his move to France made Draupner a trio. Draupner won awards at the 1995 Musik Direkt National Festival (a Swedish festival for young musicians), and this CD shows that those awards were well deserved.

The lion's share of the music is traditional material from the province of Halsingland in northeastern Sweden; there are a few originals as well. The liner notes are in Swedish and English. Each tune's source is given, and there is frequently some information about the musician from whom it is taken. These notes give a thumbnail history of some of Halsingland's notable folk musicians. A great deal of information is packed into little space (although it must be said that the type is small).

Most pieces are traditional dance tunes with Nordic music's characteristic minor-key flavor. "Brostdarret/Hins Polska Efter Hult Lasse" suggests the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle standard "Fanitullen" in both title and melody. "Fanitullen" is a tune ascribed to the devil himself while "Hins Polska" translates as "Old Nick's Polska." Its finale sounds as if a banjo snuck into the session. "Brudmarsch Efter Per Persson" is a slow, subdued wedding march. The Balkan quality sometimes found in Nordic music appears in "Polska Efter Persapojkarna." "Egotrippen" is a lovely melody by Antonsson and Andersson with none of the pushiness its title implies. Most tracks include all three musicians but there are two solo pieces played by Antonsson and two other duo tracks. Kjell Soderqvist's production leaves one's attention on the instruments, where it belongs.

Draupner is reminiscent of Vasen's trio recordings despite the lack of a nyckelharpa; Vasen guitarist Roger Tallroth even contributed two arrangements to the album. The energy Draupner brings to its music might be inspired by Vasen's example or merely a result of youthful enthusiasm. Although the straightforward titles ("Polska Efter Tulpans Anders" is typical) might lead one to expect an album only a purist could love, Draupner's playing makes the old tunes new again. Draupner shows that traditional music lives through being played with passion by new generations of musicians, not through being embalmed by custom.

This album is a must for those interested in Nordic fiddling, but anyone who likes well-played traditional music should enjoy Draupner.

- Rambles
written by Jennifer Hanson
published 9 August 2003

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