Words by Tim Cumming
Sisters are doin’ it for themselves
Anna and Rowan Rheingans were born in Sheffield and grew up in the Peak District, daughters of a violin-maker whose instruments they play. Both studied fiddle in Sweden, and Anna is currently at the conservatoire in Toulouse, while Rowan is also a part of fellow RootBeat artistes Lady Maisery and plays in Nancy Kerr & the Sweet Visitor Band.
There’s a strong Occitan presence on this magnificent album, opening with ‘Bourées’, from the Artense region of Auvergne, one of the centres of the ancient culture. Other tracks draw from the repertoire of Limousin fiddler Leon Peyrat, while the Bearnais wedding march ‘Sortitz Sortitz’ was learned from polyphonic singers Vox Bigerra, and is paired with another traditional Limousin tune, ‘Réveillez-vous Fidèles’. Elsewhere, Rowan draws on a visit to the Norwegian island of Senja for the tune ‘Mackerel’, and ‘Sjung i Stilla’ is drawn from a Swedish book of Psalms.
The pair’s playing is dextrous and strong across a range of instruments: violin, viola, vocals, kantele (zither), Jew’s harp, banjo and the bansitar (a hybrid instrument their father created). And the result is gorgeous, a music you wish to return to again and again.