Folk Songs

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: ECM
WORKS: Ballads, Hymns and Lullabies from Norway
PERFORMER: Trio Mediaeval
CATALOGUE NO: 476 6179

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Ever since Trio Mediaeval’s inception in 1997 their repertoire has included music from folk traditions, but this is, I believe, their first CD consisting entirely of arrangements of traditional songs, and certainly the first to draw entirely on Norwegian folk material.

Most of the tracks were specially arranged for them, but occasionally they have adopted arrangements used by others, like the ‘roots’ group, Tiriltunga. Elements that typify Norwegian folk music here includetulling– wordless singing analogous to Celtic ‘mouth music’ – and drum‑based styles originating when the first independent Norwegian army was founded in the early 17th century.

Both of these inform this programme. Frankly, the drum-dominated pieces, usually characterised by rather stiff, relentlessly ‘rumty-tumty’ beats, made little connection with me.

However, more rhythmically-supple pieces like ‘The Little Child’ and lyrical songs such as ‘Rest Now, Little Child’, ‘In My Reckless, Youthful Days’, and ‘Saviour of the Nations, Come’ showcase the Trio’s beautiful sound to good advantage.

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Their diction is clear even to non‑Norwegiophones like me, their phrasing and textures as admirable as ever.