Review | Songlines

Talende Strenger/Kertovat Kielet

Rating: ★★★★

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Album and Artist Details


Ragnhild Knudsen & Pauliina Syrjälä


Taragot Sounds


Look no further than this Norwegian/Finnish collaboration for a textbook example of how musicians and producers should convey their music to listeners. The sleeve notes, the illustrations and photographs are not simply informative but have a real sense of communication. Little touches such as ‘this fiddle likes to be tuned high’ reminds us that each hardingfele (Hardanger fiddle) has its own personality.

On to the music! It feels as though Knudsen, a highly respected fiddle player at the heart of Norwegian music for many years, and Syrjälä, a magical Finnish kantele (zither) player, were destined to play together. Talende Strenger/Kertovat Keilet translates as ‘Talking Strings’; the two musicians spent hours talking and, importantly, listening to each other to create tracks which draw on their respective traditions in a superbly sensitive yet adventurous way. The high silvery strings of the fiddles are mirrored in the wire-stringed kantele which is not only plucked but played with wooden and even metal sticks adding a brilliantly textured, luminous edge alongside thoughtful and engaging dynamics.

The tunes are cheeky and playful (‘Halling’ or the polska ‘Matts Näsi’) and mysteriously melancholy (‘Rykalintu’) and the playing is always exquisite.

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