Early & Late
06 May 2014
If you like the combination of recorder, violin and classical accordion and think you might have a taste for 21st-century Nordic, not-necessarily-specific responses to Old Norse folk music, Early & Late is for you. Alternating three commissioned works in an ongoing project with intriguing, two and three-minute snatches of traditional folk music rooted in the Middle Ages including drum songs from Greenland, chain-dances from the Faroe Islands and wedding music from the island of Fanø, the ensemble known as Gáman explores a wide range of elemental, occasionally primitive sound landscapes that perhaps correspond to the harsh Nordic climes.
Although Gáman, referring to the Old Norse word and its rough notions of merriment, didn’t ask the composers to relate to any specific folk music, and they have not done so, there is a sense of engagement between the old and the new. Accordingly the time allotted to the three new pieces by the Danes Rune Glerup and Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen and the Faroese Sunleif Rasumussen take up half the disc with music that is haunted by beauty as in the Bartokian wisps that adorn Glerup’s Objets decalages.
Rasmussen’s Accvire, its title derived by concatenating the words accordion, violin and recorder, paints in musical oils the spectacular, relentlessly-changing moods of the Faroe Islands. Gudmundsen-Holmgreen’s Together or Not, commissioned for the Other Minds Festival in San Francisco in 2012, runs the three instruments pretty thoroughly through their paces.
In addition to the instruments listed above the three members of Gáman also play at various times tin whistle, melodeon and that most essential of instruments, the carving board. Early & Late is also an audiophile treat (brilliantly so in a multi-speaker setup) recorded in the appropriately historic Garnisons Kirke in Copenhagen, built in 1706. In her charming, highly informative liner notes, Trine Boje Mortensen traces how the folk music intertwines with the new, who is who, and where exactly the sounds you are hearing are coming from.