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Written in Folk Roots issue 129, 1994

Föregångare ("Predecessors") - Documentary folkmusic recordings from the archive of the Swedish National Radio 1949-1967, an Introduction. Including complete Swedish folkmusic discography.

(Boxed set of 3 CDs)
MNW CD 240-242 (1993)

In the 1930s Swedish National Radio started to send reporters around the country to record "ordinary" people talking about their life and customs. In 1949 Matts Arnberg began to record their music; he went first to Dalarna, then to many other parts of the country and also to Swedish-speaking parts of Finland. Some of the material, song and instrumental, was released on record, first on 78, later re-released on EP, and then a whole lot more appeared on LP. Source material used by many musicians currently involved in Swedish-rooted music is to be found on those records, which apparently will be available on CD soon, but much remained in the archive, rather like the British material recorded by the BBC in similar projects at roughly the same period.
This elegantly-presented 3-CD boxed set is of particular importance in that it consists of material never before released. In addition the discography contained in the booklet is indeed complete, including all the contemporary manifestations of Swedish-rooted music.
     The first CD consists of 64 songs, nearly all solo and unaccompanied, from various parts of Sweden. The second is instrumental music, solo and ensemble, 41 tunes mainly on fiddle but including nyckelharpa and clarinet. It includes the whole of a concert performance by Nils Agenmark and Pål Olle, and for anyone seeking to get under the skin of Swedish instrumental music is essential listening. (There are no plans by MNW to make the CDs available separately, though). The third contains 61 songs and fiddle tunes recorded in 1957 in areas of Finland with sizeable Swedish-speaking populations: the Turku archipelago, Nyland and Ostrobothnia.
     As must be pretty obvious, this box is a classic work. Its release, on the initiative of the Swedish Folk Music Fund, is a clear indicator of a country which values its culture . . .

© 1994 Andrew Cronshaw

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