Saturday, August 8, 2015

Review - Laura Ellestad. Valdresspel i Amerika

Laura contacted me out of the blue to say that she would be in America soon and wanted to talk to me while she was here.  I did not know of her, but I was happy to meet her.  Where my work has been in preserving Upper Midwest fiddle music of the last 100 years, hers has been to investigate immigration of hardanger fiddlers from her adopted home of Valdres, Norway to the Upper Midwest in the 1800's.

Laura Ellestad in Minneapolis, MN.
Laura started out as a Canadian violinist, but as she got older became interested in the Hardanger fiddle played in Valdres, where her father's side of the family has roots.  This led her to study hardanger fiddle at the Ole Bull Acadamy in Norway.  Then she went on to get her masters degree at the Norwegian Academy of Music.  This CD comes out of that work.

When I listened to this disc I really felt like I was being transformed back in time to a foreign land.  Gone were the schottisches, waltzes and polkas that I know of as Upper Midwest music and in their stead are the hallings and springars that my ears can't truly understand, but enjoy.  I had the joy of watching Laura play these tunes in my living room and at a another venue and marveled as her feet kept a time that I know the music was following, but didn't understand how.

Her CD follows the lives of 5 Norwegian fiddlers as they came to America to find work.  Most of them came in the middle of their lives and were well established fiddlers in their home country.  They entertained crowds in the Upper Midwest with the music from their homeland.  Laura's research and anecdotes in the booklet really make for a complete package.

This CD feels like a private and emotional envelope into the past, one woman's tunes played with the upmost care and attention.  She likes to hang off of notes like wandering close to a cliff. The emphasis is on the drones of the 9 string hardanger and they ring throughout the entire disk, making me feel at home in this foreign landscape.

Find the label here.

Available on iTunes here.

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