The Auld Harp - The Living Tradition and LiRA reviews

It was, I suspect, always inevitable that Scottish harp virtuoso Catriona McKay (best known for her work with the band Fiddlers’ Bid) would one day team up with an exponent of the Swedish nyckelharpa, for the two instruments sound so very well together. The nyckelharpa’s first world champion, Olov Johansson, rose to the challenge a decade or so back by collaborating with Catriona, initially for live performances including 2007’s Celtic Connections, thence on an album (Foogy) which garnered very favourable reviews and doubtless instigated this timely follow-up, on which the musicians treat us to a further selection of tunes, a goodly majority of which are original compositions by one or other of the protagonists.

The playing is never less than invigorating and invariably also revealing unexpected additional textural subtleties (while often making the listener believe that more than two musicians are playing – although at least some part of this impression is due to the special simultaneously-sounding qualities of the mighty nyckelharpa, of which Olov plays four different varieties over the course of the disc). The compositions demonstrate a keen reciprocal grasp of the musicians’ respective indigenous traditions and a willingness to experiment within them, allied to a feel for a varied musical language and the possibilities of emotional temperature as conveyed through imaginative deployment of instrumental colour and dynamics.

From an extended, joyously animated strathspey-and-reel combination to the legendary “competition” on a pair of Swedish polskas down to the stately lilt of Rubin’s Lullaby and the lonesome, bleakly evocative January Lament, and from the cautiously joyful “turn” ofVändningen to the multi-faceted character study Splash (written for Olov’s wife): every item has its own delightful ambience, so it’s hard to grow tired of the tonal restrictions that an unrelieved diet of two instrumentalists might otherwise bring. And there’s also a playful quality to their music-making that stems in no small measure from their mutual respect and a musical bond that comes from that decade of performing together.

So, if the very sound of these two instruments enchants you, don’t hesitate to acquire this well-coordinated and attractive disc.

David Kidman

The Living Tradition


The Auld Harp cd cover


LiRA Gillar

Harpa upphöjt till två

Väsens mästerspelman Olov Johansson möter med sin nyckelharpa återigen Catriona McKays skotska harpa. De musikaliska vägarna korsades när Väsen och Catrionas grupp, Fiddler’s Bid från Shetland, delade en konsert. Detta är duons andra album och harpa plus harpa skapar fantastisk ny folkmusik.

Nyckelharpan betraktas i många delar av världen som ett mycket exotiskt instrument. Här blir det tvärtom, det är Catriona McKays 34-strängade harpa som skapar nya ljudlandskap. Hennes harpa dubblerar ibland som rytminstrument ungefär som chop’n'groove-tekniken på fiol, till exempel i den inledande titellåten.

Mitt i Olov Johanssons låt Ballongen låter harpan plötsligt som en elgitarr (!) där Catriona dessutom bjuder på coola basgångar. Det är bara att instämma med omslagstextens konstaterande att hon bryter ny mark med sin skotska harpa. Olov har en märklig förmåga att komponera låtar ur en källa som aldrig verkar sina, det är både nyskapande och traditionellt på samma gång. Imponerande. Harporna skapar klanger som slingrar sig runt varandra, ibland varsamt, ibland vildsint. “A match made in heaven” heter det väl på utrikiska.

Recenserad av: Lars Lind

LiRA Music Magazine

(Now here's a google translation of the Swedish text!)

LiRA Like

Harp squared

Essence masterful fiddler Olov Johansson meets with his nyckelharpa again Catriona McKay Scottish harp. The musical paths crossed when Guard and Catrionas group Fiddler's Bid from Shetland, shared a concert. This is the duo's second album and harp plus harp create awesome new folk.

The nyckelharpa is regarded in many parts of the world as a very exotic instruments. Here, on the contrary, it is Catriona McKay's 34 -stringed harp , creating new soundscapes. Her harp sometimes doubles as rhythm instruments like chop'n'groove technique on the violin, for example in the opening title song.

In the midst of Olov Johansson let balloon lets harp suddenly like an electric guitar (!) Where Catriona also offers cool basslines. You just have to agree with wrapping text, finding that she is breaking new ground with its Scottish harp. Olov has a remarkable ability to compose songs from a source that never seems to ebb, it is both innovative and traditional at the same time. Impressive. Harps create sounds that wind around each other, sometimes gently, sometimes ferocious. " A match made in heaven " called the well at : Foreign .

Reviewed by: Lars Lind

LiRA Music Magazine

© Catriona McKay 2015