Gettin'Bal I/S BAL0103
A CD of traditional Danish dance music played on fiddle and piano; so what do I know about traditional Danish dance music? Absolutely nothing! And what do I know about this CD? That it's absolutely wonderful!
Because, after a lifetime of listening to (and playing) traditional dance music, you get to know - with considerable certainty - whether something is 'right' or not - and this certainly is. Not only that but, maybe because in the past the Danes have had some influence over large parts of England, there's a great deal in the music on this CD which is hauntingly familiar - I keep thinking "Oh, this would go well in a set with Prince William's March" (sound clip - Skal vi gå til fremmede lande), or with several other tunes I play.
But that's not the point; this isn't a wonderful CD because I might want to learn a few of the tunes off it - but because of the playing. My immediate thought, on first listening to it was not just that these two women (Tove de Fries on fiddle and Malene D Beck on piano) are very good players, technically - but that they sound as if they've become so good by playing a lot ... rather than by practising a lot! There's an ease and grace here that only comes with time; and there's nothing of the 'flash' which is so often the result of hours of polishing technique - "I've learned how to do that, so I will" - relentlessly.
I have no idea how 'authentic' Tove and Malene's style is (though Tove's father was a traditional player, and she plays his fiddle) but it all sounds just right. The piano playing is interesting. Initially it sounds a bit like the Cape Breton style, but it's not quite so relentlessly all-enveloping; often dropping back to a simple vamp, then moving up to take the tune with the fiddle just vamping. Surprisingly, it sometimes reminds me of Daisy Sherlock (Scan Tester's daughter), who a few of you may have been lucky enough to hear playing with her Dad in the '60s and '70s.
I won't waste your time with any more of my words of wisdom about things I know nothing about. I'll just leave you with another clip (Kontra), and see if you don't agree that this is really lovely dance music.
The CD is available from www.millstream.dk or www.gofolk.dk with the possibility to paying by credit card. Also www.cdroots.com should have it.
Rod Stradling 20.11.02