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På skive



«Hárr» may be the most personal album of Norwegian Hardanger fiddler Benedicte Maurseth, a disciple of master Hardanger fiddler Knut Hamre for about three decades. The album was commissioned by Hardanger Musikkfest in 2019, composed by Maurseth, and arranged and performed in collaboration with double bass player Mats Eilertsen, percussionist Håkon Stene, with guests Rolf-Erik Nystrøm and Stein Urheim. It is a portrait and a homage to the legacy of her musical family and the wildlife nature that surrounds Maurseth’s home, who was raised in Maurset in Eidfjord – near Hardangervidda National Park – and has hiked through the mountains her whole life.

But Maurseth is not a traditional musician. She sees the legacy of Hardanger fiddler as a rich, living tradition, always being fed and open to contemporary influences from art and interacting with other musical genres. Maurseth is also inspired by ecosophy, the school of environmental philosophy developed by Arne Næss which states that humankind is not the center of the natural world but rather an equal participant in it. She weaves into her pieces the sounds of reindeers and their herders, birds and insects, all recorded in Hardangervidda, as well as brief interviews with Benedicte’s great-great-grandfather Franz Gustav Andersson Törna from Northern Sweden and her great-grandfather Leif Maurseth, both of them being hunters and reindeer herders.

The evocative, calm and resonating sound of Maurseth’s Hardanger fiddle is at the center,  gently embraced by the bass of Eilertsen and the percussion of Stene, both add subtle layers of electronics and deepen the repetitive and often sparse qualities of the Hardanger fiddle. This minimalist and meditative, deep listening spirit invites the listener to experience Maurseth’s musical universe and inspiration, a world where one can feel one with nature. Often, and quite literally, it is arranged in an imaginative and poetic way, with the sounds of wildlife. The thoughtful repetition of such timeless and innocent themes, in pieces like «Heilo», the two parts of «Kollasj» «Hreinn», captures best Maurseth’s compassionate vision «of something else, something bigger than ourselves».  Something else and so beautiful.

Eyal Hareuveni

Benedicte Maurseth (Hardanger vio), Mats Eilertsen (b, elec), Håkon Stene (vib, perc, elec), Jørgen Træen (elec), Rolf-Erik Nystrøm (s), Stein Urheim (langeleik, harm, elec, samples, perc). Special guest appearances: reindeer, European golden plover, bumblebee, running water at Tinnhølen, rock ptarmigan, rough-legged hawk, great snipe, Arctic loon, common crane, mountain owl, and the voices of Brita Fykse, Maurseth’s great-grandfather Leif Maurseth (1902–1970), Maurseth’s great-great-grandfather Frantz Gustav Andersson Törna (Sæbø) (1888–1968), Sjur Varberg (1926–2019).

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