Draumsyn (Carpe Diem Records, 2014)
Stepping off the well-worn path of world music, I don’t often come across solo hardanger fiddle (a Norwegian fiddle) recordings, but that is what Carpe Diem Records has provided with composer and musician Anne Hytta’s Draumsyn. Now, if you’re looking for happy little folk tunes this probably isn’t the CD for you, not that such a warning should in any way dissuade you from giving Draumsyn a good listen, because this recording should appeal to fiddle and folk music fans alike.
Ms. Hytta’s recordings include Padik: Music from Baluchistan with the Nordic Ensemble; Songs by Geirr Tveitt with the group Slagr and Camilla Granlien; Softspeaker with Slagr and Andreas Ulvo; Straum, Stille with Slagr; Tokso named for the self-titled ensemble with musicians from Norway, Greece and France; Soli with Ase Teigland, Synnove S. Bjorset; Symbiosis with the group SYM with hardanger fiddle, nyckelharpa and hurdy gurdy player Clare Salaman, nyckelharpa and hardanger fiddle player Eleonore Billy; Solaris with the group Slagr and Dag, Kveld, Natt.
Possessed by an ethereal, spare, lonely kind of charm, the music of Draumsyn comes across as highly atmospheric. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit to discover some film production company has snapped up some the tracks on Draumsyn for some upcoming film soundtrack, it’s that good. And how apt because Ms. Hytta explains the impetus for this recording in the liner notes as “imagining landscapes without people.” She also notes, “Some tunings in the traditional Hardanger fiddle repertoire have color names, such as ‘light blue,’ ‘grey dawn,’ ‘half grey’ and ‘green.’ Nobody knows for sure what the explanation of these names is, but it is well known that music in general – both traditional and art music – is often related to colors.”
Draumsyn balances that line between traditional and art music with a careful charm that seems capable in appealing to casual listeners and the erudite music set, surely owing to Ms. Hytta’s musical mastery as both composer and musician.
Working through a series of tracks evoking clouds, colors and the silent night gardens, Draumsyn is utterly evocative and imaginative, so it’s simply a matter of letting the mind follow the music.