Låtar II – Swedish Folk Tunes

Gunnar Idenstam & Johan Hedin

A large church organ with an infinite number of celestial sounds, colours, and moods; a nyckelharpa, (keyed fiddle) this genuinely Swedish folk instrument, as if sprung from the earth – an old being in itself. These instruments, played by two of our foremost conjurors of the instruments in question, in a wild but tender dance where earth meets sky, the ancient meets the brand new, and hardship meets joy. An encounter that creates an enchanted world that we listeners are invited to step into, be embraced by, and travel through, on a journey in time, melody, and harmony.

The prominent conjurors in question are of course the keyed fiddle player Johan Hedin and the organ virtuoso Gunnar Idenstam, and this album, Låtar II, is the duo’s second – their first album was released in 2004, also on the Caprice label (CAP 21733) – and is yet another innovative mixture of old Swedish folk tunes and newly written material.

Their music is rooted in Swedish folk music but feels brand new, as the music is created and shaped in the encounter between these two innovators – it twists and turns along mysterious paths, dresses up in symphonic clothing, invokes sacred moods, swirls about in danceable polskas, and sings its lyrical melodies. In short, it is an invitation into a fantastic new world, or as the BBC writer Fiona Talkington writes in the album’s liner notes: “So step into this world of Gothic shadows, Baroque elegance, fiery furnaces and frozen summits, broken hearts and laughter, of tunes which were hummed by our grandparents, of sounds which they would flee from, but most of all give yourself up wholeheartedly to this inspired creation and dance and weep along the way.”

Johan Hedinis undoubtedly one of the leading and most innovative keyed fiddle players in the world. He is a folk musician to the core, firmly rooted in, and with a great passion for the tradition of Swedish folk music, but at the same time equipped with a restless curiosity to seek out new sounds and contexts, and to take the keyed fiddle into musical landscapes it has never set foot upon – a fact that is evident in Johan’s compositions which, even though they spring from Swedish folk music, manage to go beyond it, develop it, and thereby create completely new and unique personal expressions.

He has studied at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm and performed in a wide array of constellations. For example, he performs in duo form with folk music legend and violinist Pelle Björnlert, and with singer, guitarist and mandolin player Esbjörn Hazelius, he is a member of the world music group Bazar Blå, and of the trio Luftstråk together with violinist Sven Ahlbäck and the Finnish accordion virtuoso Maria Kalaniemi.

Gunnar Idenstam is a concert organist, composer and folk musician. He comes from a background of classical music, but he has always had a “distant love affair” with the folk and symphonic rock of the 1970s. Today he has brought these influences into the context of organ music. To develop the wide-ranging music he creates and performs today, he studied at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm and then studied the virtuoso French tradition in Paris. He achieved the highest honours in both countries. In 1984 he was the first – and to date, the only – musician from northern Europe to win the prestigious international competition in improvisation, the “Grand Prix de Chartres”. Since 1986 he has pursued an international career as a concert organist. Currently he performs as a soloist, with other folk musicians, and with the trombone virtuoso Christian Lindberg.

Gunnar Idenstam aims to expand his audience’s appreciation of the organ so that they are no longer limited by preconceptions of the instrument or any particular genre. As a folk musician, he stands quite apart in his transposition of the special qualities of the Swedish folk music for organ, and he builds bridges between French cathedral music traditions, symphonic rock, and folk music. His arrangements of orchestral works by Ravel and Debussy (La Mer) are greatly admired at recitals at home and abroad.

Read more
Show playlist
    • 1.
      Diptyque I Music: Trad. Arr. Gunnar Idenstam
    • 2.
      Halling IV Music: Gunnar Idenstam
    • 3.
      Serra Music: Trad. Arr. Gunnar Idenstam
    • 4.
      Pigopolskan Music: Trad. Arr. Gunnar Idenstam
    • 5.
      Gangar Music: Johan Hedin
    • 6.
      Kersti's polska Music: Gunnar Idenstam
    • 7.
      Spel Jocke Music: Trad. Arr. Gunnar Idenstam
    • 8.
      Procession II Music: Gunnar Idenstam
    • 9.
      Sarabande Music: Trad. Arr. Gunnar Idenstam
    • 10.
      Armnöpolskan Music: Gunnar Idenstam
    • 11.
      Inner Peace Music: Trad. Arr. Gunnar Idenstam
    • 12.
      Polska Poem Music: Johan Hedin
    • 13.
      Diptyque II Music: Trad. Arr. Gunnar Idenstam
    • 14.
      Spring Song Music: Johan Hedin
  • Total playtime 58'00

Compact Disc // CAP 21807 // Folk music // Releasedate: 21 April, 2010