"In the large deserted woods on both sides of the Swedish-Norwegian border, Finnish people settled down in the 15th- and 16th century. These areas are now called "Finnskogen", the Finnish woods. The settlers came from difficult times in Finland, and burned down forest to cultivate rye in the ashes. In these vast forests it was hard to tell if you were in Sweden or Norway. Culture does not know borders either, and the music is a common Swedish- Norwegian tradition.
So reads the intro text on "Finnskogen brinner", the collaboration between Swedish fiddle artist Patrik Andersson and his Norwegian counterpart Vegar Vårdal. I am by no means attuned to the many regional differences in Scandinavian folk tradition, so I can't begin to explain how the music of Finnskogen, but these gentlemen play beautifully together. Some of the more minimal folk records I've been listening to as part of my "Listen to Norway" exploration (this is #5) can get grating, especially with the uncertain harmonies of the Hardanger Fiddle, but this one never falters. Two players and their instruments, maybe a little foot-tapping; that's all you need. "Dette var sagt at når Halteguten, Ola Porkkala, spilte denne valsen kunne ikke folk la vaere å gråte."
My apologies for not keeping up with weekly posts in this series, but my dayjob workload has been astounding. Rest assured, there will be lots more music (folk and otherwise) posted in weeks to come.
Patrik Andersson & Vegar Vårdal - Gråtaren