Album Remarks & Appraisals:
The Nordanstad Suite is based on strong sources of inspiration in the meeting. On the one hand it is about the tantalizing fantasy world that is hidden in the medieval ballads myths and stories. And the musical treasure of archaic and distinctive melodies that brought these stories down from generation to generation through the centuries. On the other hand, it is about the desire to meet the symphony orchestra fascinating world of sound and rich musical possibilities. Folk music in the encounter with classical music in itself is nothing new. On the contrary, folk music during most epochs been an obvious inspiration for symphonic music. But every time has its way of interpreting this. Here are explored our own time version of this meeting. Now comes the initiative from within, from people musicians' own circuit. The singer and fiddler LENA WILL MARK and multi-instrumentalist Ale Möller are two unique profiles in the Swedish music scene. Based on the Swedish folk music sounds they make constant over brews into other musical worlds to let new music occur. Through years of touring in many countries they have reached a large audience for their music. CD Nordanstad, released by ECM in 1994, was the start of a musical journey that this goes on. The new CD The Nordanstad Suite is based on collaboration with arranger and conductor Hans Ek, who along with Ale Möller composed the music. Hans Ek, in its work on the Scandinavian music scene for the past 25 years has made the symphony orchestra for a venue for classical, jazz, pop and folk music.
The Nordan Suite is based on the gathering of strong sources of inspiration. On one hand we have the enticing world of fantasy hidden in the myths and legends of medieval ballads, along with the musical treasures of ancient and unique melodies that have born these stories from generation to generation throughout the ages. On the other is a desire to experience the fascinating tonal world of the symphony orchestra, with all its rich musical possibilities. Folk music in combination with classical music is nothing new in itself. On the contrary, folk music has always been an obvious inspiration for symphonic repertoire, and every stylistic period has had its own methods of interpreting this. Here we explore these possibilities according to current trends. The initiatives come from within, from the folk musician's own surroundings. Singer-instrumentalist Lena Willemark and multi-instrumentalist Ale Möller are two unique profiles among swedish musicians. With origins in the characteristic sounds of swedish folk music they continuously form ties to other musical worlds that allow new music to arise. Through many years spent touring numerous countries they have reached an enormous audience for their music. The recording Nordan, published by ECM 1994 marked the start of a musical journey that is continued here. This new CD, The Nordan Suite marks a cooperative effort with arranger and composer Hans Ek, who together with Ale Möller has composed the music. Through his presence on the scandinavian music scene the past 25 years, Hans Ek has made the symphony orchestra into a meeting place for classical, jazz, pop and folk music.
Musician (12/94, p.98) - "...Willemark's rich, expressive voice conveys the same kind of passion and incandescence that Clannad's Maire Brennan delivers....the real strength is Moller and the other instrumentalists, who use a jazzy sense of interplay and texture to flesh out these tartly tuneful folk melodies..."
Personnel: Lena Willemark (vocals, fiddle); Ale Moller (mandola, dulcimer, harp, flute, accordion, cows-horn, shawm); Mats Eden (fiddle, kantele); Per Gudmundson (fiddle, Swedish bagpipes); Jonas Knutsson (saxophone, percussion); Palle Daielsson (double bass); Tina Johansson, Bjorn Tollin (percussion).
Recorded at Rainbow Studio, Oslo, Norway in December 1993.
Personnel: Lena Willemark (vocals, fiddle); Ale Möller (hammer dulcimer, kantele, mandola, flute, harmonica, accordion, shawm, cow horn); Rafael Sida Huizar (percussion).
Audio Mixers: Kenneth Skoglund; Hans Surte Norin.
Recording information: Västerås Concert Hall (06/2013).
Translator: Cynthia Zetterqvist.
Nordan is a respectful sampling of sacred Swedish folk music, whereby Ale Möller shows off his strengths as a multi-instrumentalist and arranger for a record label that fits him like a glove: the equally chilling and crisp ECM from Germany. The album showcases material laid down hundreds (if not thousands) of years earlier, tapping the veins of medieval folklore as it speaks through the voice of the fisherman's wife, the exiled brother, the shepherd, the knight, and various other historical archetypes. Lena Willemark fuels these various tall tales with a gorgeous voice and accomplished fiddle playing, along with an ensemble of half a dozen other musicians. Her playing smolders at various points on the disc (but especially so on the brief instrumental "Jemsken"). In addition, it almost goes without saying that Manfred Eicher further serves the material with his faithfully minimalist production values, emphasizing the natural sounds of the dulcimer, accordion, mandolas, percussion, drone fiddles, and double bass. Consequently, the music has a timelessness to it, and a legitimacy that would certainly perish if there were any attempts to make it "hip" (perhaps the alto saxophone would be the only guilty party). The disc closes simply and beautifully with "Drömspår -- Efterspel," a prayer on Möller's accordion that drifts under the northern lights, somewhere out at sea. Its impact lays in its simplicity. By playing it straight, Nordan preserves something more intimate than history -- it revives the thinning fires of legend and myth. ~ Glenn Swan