Per-Olof Moll &
Per Hardestam,
Jaggu Lekar
(GIGA Folkmusik, 2003)

Giga is a label specializing in Swedish fiddle music. Although their offerings may be a little esoteric for the average listener, fiddlers and students of Nordic music will find their discs to be generous collections of terrific fiddling, extensively annotated. Jaggu Lekar is no exception.

The music here comes from the Sarna area in southwestern Sweden. Sarna and Idre lie just across the border from Engerdal in Norway, and all three communities were connected by trade routes. The local fiddlers knew each other's music, no matter what side of the border an individual called home. This quote from the liner notes sums up the sound of this music: "There's a bit of punk rock about the Sarna tunes. They have a certain pungency. They aren't very hummable nor are they accessible. You have to grow to like them."

Per-Olof Moll and Per Hardestam are self-taught fiddlers from the Stockholm area who have been playing together for almost 20 years. They met when Moll took a course in violin-making from Hardestam. Before long, an enduring partnership was born. With Moll's family roots in the Sarna area, it wasn't long before they began learning tunes from the old fiddlers there.

As the quote above suggests, this music isn't for everybody. The angular dissonances that are a hallmark of this style make this CD the opposite of "easy listening." Moll and Hardestam are the only musicians on Jaggu Lekar and this album is 33 tracks of two-fiddle traditional dance tunes in a bare-bones presentation. But there is a fascinating assortment of regional variations on the polska, the pols, the schottis, the brudmarsch or wedding march, and other folk forms. The liner notes include an enlightening interview with both musicians and notes on each piece, sometimes even including tunings. Clearly there is a great deal of uniqueness to the Sarna style and the notes only scratch the surface, but they make an excellent introduction.

This CD is essential for any collection of Swedish traditional music, or for anyone interested in regional fiddle styles. As someone who enjoys the dissonances and unusual tempos of Nordic music, I also enjoyed this CD for the music itself. Once again, Giga has delivered a wonderful package of (mostly) Swedish fiddle music.

- Rambles
written by Jennifer Hanson
published 14 February 2004