The thousand years old Norse visionary poem Voluspá tells the story of the creation of a beautiful, harmonious world and its coming to utter chaos and its inevitable end, as it is torn apart by destructive forces. Norwegian violinist Anne Hytta thought that this ancient poem resonates with our times and set the evocative, immediate images of Voluspá to music, hoping that that the images of the creation of the world would offer «a warmth that is full of joy and good energy».
«Fyrsta morginn – Music for Voluspá» is performed by the international folk-music string quartet Tokso – Hytta on the hardanger fiddle, Greek Kelly Thoma on the Cretan lyra, French Eléonore Billy on the Swedish keyed violin, nyckelharpa, and fellow-Norwegian cellist Sigrun Eng, who plays with Hytta also in the chamber trio Slagr. Tokso – an ancient Greek word for bow – is augmented in this album, its third so far, by Norwegian double bass player Jo Skaansar and French-Iranian percussionist Bijan Chemirani. The music is instrumental but the booklet offers the terse, powerful stanzas of Voluspá – in the original Old Norse (translated into modern Norwegian and English) – that inspired Hytta’s composition, all add to the dramatic effect of «Fyrsta morginn».
Tokso performance of «Fyrsta morginn» resonates not only the dire prophecy of Voluspá, but has a strong resonating presence thanks to the resonating presence of instruments like the hardanger fiddle, Cretan lyra and nyckelharpa with their sympathetic strings. Hytta’s compositions for these unique, ancient string instruments – with the cello and the double bass, 54 strings in total, suggest an untimely sonic terrains, or as she puts it, «no colours are foreign». And, indeed, the music flows gently and peacefully between imaginary territories, geophysical as well as musical, suggesting a better vision for this threatened world. Tokso blends the minimalist-cinematic language of Philip Glass, on «Hvíta tré», with the joyful-ceremonial Mediterranean-Nordic-Persian folk dances of «Fer∂in nor∂an» and «Fer∂in annat sinn», the enigmatic meditations of «Sorgartími» and «Sólganga» and the dark, elegiac «Sortnar sól». All these rich themes resonate with and within each others, inspiring beautiful, sonic and cultural bridges for the emergence of a brave, new world.
Anne Hytta (hardanger vio), Kelly Thoma (cretan lyra), Eléonore Billy (nyckelharpa), Sigrun Eng (c), Bijan Chemirani (percn, zarb), Jo Skaansar (b)