Nyckelharpa Orchestra’s Byss-Calle 

2071083Naomi de Bruyn penned this review.

The Nyckelharpa orchestra is comprised of six top musicians from the younger generation of nyckelharpa players. They are all working at preserving the nyckelharpa tradition, as well as developing it, both as an ensemble, and as solo artists. Their playing is exquisite, all six are adding in passion and talent to a ensemble which has much potential. And after listening I would have to agree that this is a tradition which should be preserved.

The nyckelharpa itself is a keyed fiddle, and is Sweden’s national instrument. Byss-Calle who the CD is named for, is the most legendary player of the nyckelharpa. Apparently Byss-Calle’s talents were so great that many believed them to be supernatural, and indeed, reading through the cover notes, there are a number of incidences concerning the nyckelharpa itself which could be said to be supernaturally caused. And, of course, unexplainable circumstances abound where Byss-Calle is involved.

The Nyckelharpa Orchestra, or NHO, is comprised of members: Henrik Eriksson (nyckelharpa), Johan Hedin (Nyckelharps, silverbasharpa, altnyckelharpa), Ola Hertzberg (nyckelharpa, altnyckelharpa, moraharpa, tenornyckelharpa),Olov Johansson (nyckelharpa, kontrabasharpa, tenornyckelharpa), Niklas Roswall (nyckelharpa, kontrabasharpa, altnyckelharpa), Markus Svenson (nyckelharpa, kontrabasharpa). As well as being apart of NHO, some members belong to other groups.Olov Johansson plays with ‘Vsen’, Johan Hedin plays with the trio ‘Patrekatt and Tryptik’, and Niklas Roswall plays with ‘Ranarim.’

The sixteen tracks on this CD are all traditional arrangements, and all showcase the nyckelharpa. This is an instrument which has remarkable qualities and a very unique beauty, and the music they play on this CD, portray this instrument to it fullest potential. These six young men are artisans of a craft which is a delight and a wonder to listen to. All the arrangements are attributed to Byss-Calle (1783-1847).

‘Vastanmads Polska’ is the embodiment of the agony of the heart. According to the cover notes, Byss-Calle composed this for his unrequited love, Vastanmads-Anna. She married another, and he was unfortunate enough to play the wedding. He played this song tearfully, all night long.

‘Byss-Calles Ridmarsch’ (Byss-Calle’s Riding March) is a rather stately tune. A riding march is apparently played when the bridal party rode to the church. The fiddler rode first in this procession, while playing the march. If you like traditional music, and appreciate the fiddle, you will enjoy this CD. It is an ejoyable piece of history, and NHO teaches the history lesson very well!

(Drone Music AB, 2000


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