Five years ago Hardanger fiddle players Benedicte Maurseth and Knut Hamre released their CD/DVD “Rosa i botnen”, a pioneering work in the field of Norwegian folk music. This important project introduced fresh, new perspectives into the way folk music was perceived.
The CD “Anima” (soul) represents a further development of “Rosa i botnen”. Once again they are dusting off the old Hardanger fiddles. This time we are also able to hear the oldest fiddle in Norway, made by Trond Flatebø in 1746, which has never been recorded before.
Maurseth and Hamre invited two classical performers to join them on “Anima” who have specialised in instruments from the same time period. Elisabeth Seitz, from Germany, plays the tympanon (hammered dulcimer) and Philippe Pierlot, from Belgium, plays the viola da gamba. They are both among the leading performers in their fields. The innovative musician and composer Nils Økland plays fiddles and viola d’amore on the album, and has also contributed a work commissioned by Maurseth and Hamre, “5736”. The title refers to the postcode of Hamre’s home village of Granvin, and on the album the piece is found alongside fiddle tunes and early baroque music by Henry Purcell and Tobias Hume, among others. “Writing for this ensemble was a tremendous and exciting challenge,” says Nils Økland. “The piece has an open structure, in which the musicians can express themselves in a landscape they feel at home in, with regard to both their instruments and their musical backgrounds.”
It is apparent that on “Anima” the musicians are equally concerned with creating something new and relevant as they are with searching for something that is historically correct and authentic. “What is old is new, and what is new is old,” Maurseth and Hamre write in the CD booklet.
“Anima” is presented in a beautiful cover designed by Rune Mortensen, with paintings by Els Geelen. The comprehensive booklet includes an essay by Associate Professor Bjørn Aksdal on fiddle makers Isak Nielsen Skaar and Trond Flatebø.