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Private Label NFB004CD 

A beguiling combination of drive and delicacy, this third album from Scandinavia's favourite fiddling sons is named for the hard frosts in Kevin Henderson's Shetland home. I daresay they get equally crisp weather in Norway and Sweden, but the music from Olav Luksengård Mjelva and Anders Hall is on the sunny side here: a joyous Swedish Brudpolska sounding like a Bach partita, the roller-coaster Myrstacken by Eric Öst, and a couple of Mjelva compositions including the COVID-friendly Don't Drink And Dance in traditional Drop Dead tuning. Old treasures from all three traditions alternate with impressive new creations.

Bonfrost opens with the magnificent Schottische Kerlou, written by Scottish fluter and piper Calum Stewart for his adopted home in Brittany; its arrangement for fiddle trio is inspired. As a departure from their normal complex layering, The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc each take a solo on this CD, by popular request apparently: tracks 4, 7 and 11 in recognition of their favourite aftershave. Kevin goes first with two great old Shetland reels from John Stickle's repertoire, Be Nort Da Dykes O' Voe and Deltingside, self-explanatory titles. Anders plays En Konstig Fan, a moody polska learnt from Emil Olsson whose title no doubt has a special meaning in the Hålsingland dialect. Vrengja is a springar dance tune from the 18th century, perhaps older, a showpiece for Hardanger fiddle flawlessly performed by Olav. The album finishes with Kevin's delicate frosty waltz, its wintry beauty promising a thaw, stunning on three fiddles: a fitting end to this very fine collection.

Alex Monaghan


This review appeared in Issue 137 of The Living Tradition magazine