Haugaard & Hoirup,
Om Sommeren (In the Summer)
(GO Danish, 2004)

In the wake of a difficult winter, violinist Harald Haugaard and guitarist Morten Alfred Hoirup decided to record "a little morsel of Danish summer." The result is Om Sommeren, and a delectible morsel it is.

The focus here is on well-played instrumental music; Hoirup contributes a few vocal tracks as well. Although Nordic music is filled with ominous and bittersweet compositions, Haugaard & Hoirup have concentrated on the more cheerful end of the spectrum, as befits an album devoted to the endless sunlight of the northern summer. Most of the music is traditional, but the duo has included a few of their own compositions, as well as a couple of melodies written by the great Danish composer Carl Nielsen. Each track is described in detail in the liner notes (in Danish and English). Both musicians get a warm tone from their instruments that also brings summer to mind.

The swirling "Middag I Haven" gets the album off to a rousing start as it evokes an enthusiastic waltz on a sunny day. The intricate "Mary Lea's Waltz" is a Hoirup original. Though it may not be Celtic, the medley "Boulevarden/Tolderens Trekant/Dantz" would be welcome at any session with its sprightly jigs. Hoirup's voice (a bit reminiscent of Steve Goodman's) appears on the gentle title ballad and "Som Stjernerne Pa Himlens Bla," a ballad about a faithless lover.

The album concludes with "Underlige Aftenlufte," a Nielsen setting of a poem written by Adam Oehlenschlager during a spell of homesickness for Denmark. The tune has gone on to become associated with expatriate Danes, and it is a sweet melody well-suited for fond thoughts of one's homeland.

You don't have to be a fan of Nordic music to enjoy this album; anyone who enjoys good acoustic music in an uncluttered setting will probably like Om Sommeren. It also makes an excellent introduction to Nordic music in general and Danish music in particular. Finally, its bright summery ambience is welcome at any season, whether you listen to it while sipping a lemonade in July or during a cold spell in January.

- Rambles
written by Jennifer Hanson
published 17 October 2004