(independent, 2010)

Skir, which means "shimmering" in their native Norwegian, marks Majorstuen's 10th anniversary of making music. And it seems to be as good a name as any to describe their sound; Majorstuen's five members all play an amazing violin, sometimes bringing a bit of cello into their otherwise pristine fiddle environment.

It's a brilliant production.

The band is Synnove S. Bjorset, Tove P. Dalbakk, Jorun Marie Kvernberg, Gjermund Larsen and Andreas Ljones, and all play fiddle. Dalbakk dabbles in cello, too. And, considering that all five learned their art at the Norwegian State Academy of Music, you can imagine how well they do what they do. It was at the academy that these fiddlers met and merged their disparate styles into one core unit.

The purity of the string sound is a rarity; even Scotland's Blazin' Fiddles puts guitar and keyboard into the mix. But nothing here strays outside of the viol family, and it's a silvery-sounding product that glides over the ears like a sterling blade on ice.

Norwegian fiddles are a genre apart, related in some basic ways but largely distinct from their Scottish and Irish counterparts. And Majorstuen plumbs the depths of the Norwegian tradition here for a thoroughly modern but rooted sound that will have listeners seeing fjords in their sleep.

Skir is the band's third recording and is well worth the price for anyone who likes a well-played violin or who enjoys Norwegian tunes. The music here is in the hands of skilled craftsmen; Majorstuen is a major talent.

[ visit the artist online ]

review by
Tom Knapp

17 April 2010

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