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Written in Folk Roots issue 158/159, 1996

Pers Hans Olsson och Björn Ståbi

GIGA GCD-23 (1995)

Jonny Soling

GIGA GCD-27 (1995)

Päkkos Gustaf och Ole Hjorth

GIGA GCD-28 (1996)

Three new releases from Mats Hellberg’s Swedish fiddling Giga label. All are in the Dalarna tradition, by leading and influential fiddlers.

      Pers Hans Olsson, a long-time member of Rättvik Spelmanslag, and Björn Ståbi first played together in 1963, featured in the "Visor Och Bockfot" tour and album 1970, and together worked on several projects including an early Abba single. After a gap in the 80s, they’re back together with exemplary duet and solo fiddling in a set of interesting tunes from Rättvik, Orsa and other parts of Dalarna, including some by Pers Hans, the majority polskas but including bridal music, a waltz and a tune once used to accompany the letting out of the sheep in the morning.

      From Orsa, and working in the same geographical tradition as Pers Hans and Björn Ståbi, with some of the same legendary fiddlers as strong influences, Jonny Soling has a distinct sound and style. Though he has in the past worked with many other musicians, his current performances, and this album, are solo. Like the Olsson/Ståbi album the ratio of polskas is high; again this is a collection of strong tunes, many from the 19th century Bingsjö fiddler Pekkos Per and Pål Olle (Soling collaborated with the latter for several years), played as finely as one might expect from a present-day master.

      Päkkos Gustaf och Ole Hjorth, featuring polskas and other tunes many of which (including versions of some also on the Soling album) also come from the playing of Pekkos Per, is a window on an earlier generation’s music. Older than any of the other players on these three albums so in that sense reaching back further, Päkkos Gustaf has lived in the same home, Pekkosgården, near Bingsjö since he was born in 1916. His playing is perhaps less firm than it presumably was when he was younger, but is nonetheless detailed, assured and full of life and nuance. The famous Hjort Anders Olsson (who died in 1953 but whose dramatic figure, in traditional long coat and wide-brimmed hat, lives on as the logo of Falun Festival) was also born in Bingsjö, and his music (with that of Päckos Olle, from whom he learnt many of the tunes here) is a major influence on Päkkos Gustaf’s, though they only met once. Like Soling, Gustaf played with Pål Olle. Ole Hjorth from Uppsala, who plays second fiddle, was a pupil of Hjort Anders and featured his music on his own solo album, GCD-16.

© 1996 Andrew Cronshaw

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