- Ellis & Andrés bröllopssvit
- Mellow D
- Framtidens Marsch
- Jungfrun av Norge
- Stråkmakarns polska
- Sonias promenad
From Nov 15 to 22 we are going to tour in Uppland, our home province with this amazing project.
Väsen, with André Ferrari on percussion together with singer/fiddler Lena Willemark, Trio X from Uppsala and Norbotten Big Band.
Everything led by Mats Hålling who have written most of the arrangements. See our gig-list for more details.
On November 4 we have our very special acoustic concert. On November 5 & 6 we are sharing concert with Lunasa from Ireland and Nanook from Greenland. For more details see our giglist.
It was Olov Johansson, nyckelharpa player with the superbly accomplished Swedish trio Väsen, who suggested that by the end of the evening we’d be “thoroughly polskanised”, referring to the distinctive polska tunes which form the bedrock of their repertoire. He needn’t have worried, as he, viola player Mikael Marin and guitarist Roger Tallroth delivered a masterly performance that was warmly enhanced by the intimacy of its TradFest/Edinburgh Folk Club setting.
The Swedes were supported by brief, but nicely complementary, sets by the home-grown Celtic Nyckelharpa Project, a trio led by Gavin Pennycook playing Scots and Irish repertoire on the distinctive Swedish keyed fiddle.
With near-telepathic levels of interaction honed by 26 years on the road, Väsen generate a wonderful melling of timbres, with Tallroth’s 12-string guitar cascading through the tight unison playing or lithe harmonising of the viola and nyckelharpa. There were tunes of their own, not least a haunting little waltz by Tallroth, picked out on damped strings until the nyckelharpa sang out, bagpipe-like, for the last few bars; also old melodies of intriguing provenance – such as the polska and minuet apparently favoured by Carl Linnaeus, 18th-century father of scientific taxonomy.
They could switch with split-second timing between all-out dance-hall stomp to Baroque intricacy and flamboyance, often within the same tune, and at one point discharged a barrage of dissonances that suggested they were about to break into the shower scene score from Psycho.
We were indeed well “polskanised”, but left shouting for more.
We may never know what happened between Väsen and the booking agent who inspired Kapten Kapsyl. It seems safe to venture that the Swedish trio’s relationship with the man they dubbed Captain Bottletop didn’t end harmoniously. Whether it reached such a brilliantly orchestrated, nay choreographed, coda as the tune named in the captain’s honour is another matter.
Väsen have made codas into an art form all by themselves: it’s one of the many, many pleasures to be had from listening to them. They’re not all as wayward and prolonged as Kapten Kapsyl’s. Some are deftly turned, brilliantly brief and quite tangential afterthoughts. Another did its damnedest to insinuate Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds into its otherwise very Scandinavian demeanour.
Such compositional attention to detail goes hand in hand with arrangements where viola and the Swedish keyed fiddle, the nyckelharpa dovetail so perfectly with a twelve-string guitar that can be piccolo sweet and Telecaster rockin’ within the same few bars of a polska. And the tunes are mostly polskas, each with a specific, identifiable character that grows and cavorts, be it with minute gracefulness, a slightly staggering metre or mighty celebration but always with fantastic precision.
The stylistic exceptions were minuets and waltzes, some emphasising the effortless stretch back to baroque times in Väsen’s music generally and one waltz in particular, delightfully named The Little Culture Support Waltz, illustrating the gorgeous elegance these men, none of whom are small, have at their long fingertips. A fantasia of pizzicato viola, nyckelharpa harmonics and twelve-string melodicism, this was quiet, shapely majesty in a set overflowing with magic, musicality, wit and whatever the Swedish might be for bonhomie.
Recorded live in Sweden on 24 July, 2014, this 2-disc set (video DVD and audio CD) captures the trio during their 25th Anniversary tour. The concert includes material from their "Mindset" collection plus some old favorites.
Both discs contain the full, two-set performance. The DVD also features interview footage. (DVD is Swedish with English subtitles optional, format is NTSC playable worldwide, 16:9 aspect ratio, running time is just over 90 minutes).
Väsen has been many times to Gamla Bion in Örsundsbro (the old cinema) during the 25 years we have played together. It's the amazing acoustics, nice audience and the warm atmosphere that always brings us back. We have also felt very welcomed by the enthusiastic association running the cinema. The idea for this recording came a few years ago, during Väsen's bicycle tour, when we were resting our legs outside the cinema, chatting with Eva Eldh, one of the organizers.
- You should make a live recording here at the cinema, Eva said.
- Yes, and you should make a film documentary about the place, Väsen said.
The ideas were planted and after some intense calling and organizing at the beginning of the summer, a film team and a sound engineer stood ready for Väsen's concert at the cinema 14th of July 2014. Thanks to many supportive and generous people we could make this happen! The audience showed up and we captured a concert we'd like to share with people who couldn't come. Hope you like it!
After 25 years in the business the Swedish string trio Väsen are sounding better than ever. They write gorgeous tunes and deliver them with a spry step, airtight ensemble and bittersweet lyricism that gets deep under your skin. They’ve lost none of their daft banter, none of their warm and raucous rapport. A hearty cheer went up when they ambled on stage at the Mitchell: they’re Celtic Connections favourites and for obvious reason.
Their sound is governed by Olov Johansson’s winsome nyckelharpa, but Väsen is by no means a one-man band. Mikael Marin’s five-string viola adds richness and feisty decorations; Roger Tallroth’s guitar provides real melodic counterpoint (it’s no surprise that he’s also a fiddler) as well as foot-stomping rhythmic drive. And they’ve been playing together for so long that every nuance is as breezy and loose as it is perfectly in synch.
They performed a couple of early 18th century pieces including a beautifully poised minuet from the time of Carl Linnaeus, but mostly their set comprised material from their latest album, 2013′s superb Mindset. Almost every number is a polska (a traditional Nordic triple-time dance) – in fact, if this band is anything to go by it seems the Swedes write polskas for any occasion going: for friends, neighbours and family members, for retirement presents and wedding gifts. Marin told us that he composed one polska after taking his dog for a 780m walk and watching it wee 12 times along the way; proof, surely, that musical inspiration can be found anywhere you look. As an encore they played a simple wedding waltz, Pilvi & Eskos Brudvals, whose aching, meandering melody is among the most beautiful you’re likely to encounter.
The final two days of the 2013 Celtic Colours International Festival were a whirlwind of activity – for us, anyway. On Friday we took a short trip along part of the Cabot Trail and a tiny section of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park before having dinner at the Glendora Distillery between Mabou and Inverness, and then taking in a top-notch show that highlighted the Nordic-Celtic connection at the Inverness Academy.
The program was titled “In Good Company,” and although it wasn’t a sold-out house, it was quite close at nearly 500. In contrast to most of the other shows we saw this week, this one had a high proportion of locals in the audience. That was no doubt due to the presence of some popular local acts on the bill, including the sibling foursome Company Road. Mitch, Gordie, Brennan and Kelly Jean MacDonald hail from just down the road in Port Hood, and although they currently sing and play more of a contemporary country sound, they grew up on Cape Breton-style Celtic music and dance. They told some touching stories of growing up in a big family and sang a short set of mid-tempo country-folk. They got their parents, Cecil and Mary Jane MacDonald (herself a step-dancing legend on Cape Breton Island’s west coast) on stage to sing the sentimental “This Old House,” and did a nice, slowed-down version of “Wild Mountain Thyme.”
Half of the show was given over to Nordic acts, starting with Finns Antti and Arto Järvelä, who played fiddles and guitar (Antti) on a short set of Finnish traditional and contemporary folk music. The setlist included lots of polskas, some waltzes and a polonaise or two, in addition to a tango-influenced piece he wrote during a tour of South America – it was a woozy hangover of a tune that slid back and forth between waltz and double-waltz time.
The other half of the Nordic program was filled by one of my favorite folk acts from any part of the world, the Swedish trio Väsen. They electrified the crowd with their driving, rhythmic music and their high-volume, full sound created by Roger Tallroth’s 12-string guitar, Mikael Marin’s five-string viola and Olov Johansson’s modern nyckelharpa. Their set had several tunes from their 2013 album Mindset including the whimsical Hundlåten (“the dog song”) which Marin wrote while on a walk with his Spanish waterdog; and the “Carl Linnaeus Polonaise” from their 2007 Linnaeus Väsen disc. It was the fifth time I’ve seen these guys, and I’m not tired of them yet; this was their first trip to Celtic Colours but I suspect they’ll be invited back, judging from all the whooping and hollering during their set and the sustained applause at its conclusion from folks hoping for an encore – something that rarely happens at Celtic Colours.
The evening was anchored by the Beaton Sisters Band, helmed by the popular Margie and Dawn Beaton of Mabou. The two played only fiddle this night and did some step-dancing, although Dawn also plays piano and Margie mandolin. Piper Kenneth MacKenzie of Mabou and pianist Jason Roach of Cheticamp (also of Sprag Session) rounded out the sound behind these champions of Gaelic fiddle music. They played a strong set of jig-and-reel sets with the band and as a duo and also did a step-dance duet that had the crowd on its feet. Dawn, by the way, has been named artistic director of the festival for the 2014 season, after serving for a few years as assistant director. Here’s a good example of the way Dawn and Margie sound as a duet, on “Just Jigs” from their debut CD Dawn & Margie Beaton.
For the grand finale, all the musicians played a long medley of Finnish, Swedish and Celtic tunes and songs, including a hilarious rendition of Abba’s “Take a Chance With Me” sung by the kids from Company Road.
INGONISH — In the cozy confines of St. Peter’s Church, Swedish group Väsen continued their debut tour of the Celtic Colours International Festival, Thursday night.
The folk trio, featuring Mikael Marin, Roger Tallroth, and Olov Johansson, are performing three shows in three nights on a whirlwind swing through Cape Breton. The second in that run brought them to Ingonish Thursday for The Hills Are Alive show, alongside The Snowflake Trio made up of Irish flute player and singer Nuala Kennedy, accordionist Frode Haltli and Hardanger fiddle player Vegar Vårdal from Norway; as well as Cape Breton band Coig starring Chrissy Crowley, Rachel Davis, Colin Grant, Jason Roach and Darren McMullen, all veterans of the festival in their own right but making their Celtic Colours debut as a quintet.
The Snowflake Trio and Coig took the stage in the first half of the show, while Väsen was introduced to open the second half of the night with Marin on viola, Tallroth on the 12-string guitar, and Johansson on the nyckelharpa, a traditional Swedish instrument. With the shape of a long fiddle and features of various other instruments, the nyckelharpa has a storied past.
“The history goes back a long time, the oldest picture is from 1350 but we don’t know very much about how it was used (then). From the 1600s there’s lots of proofs of it and written texts and you can see how it’s been used,” explained Johansson. “In (the Swedish province) Uppland, where we come from, that’s where it’s been used and they have invented new models of nyckelharpa to match the fashion of the music that’s changing all the time over history.”
In the mid-1900s the nyckleharpa tradition was in decline in Uppland with only 20-30 players and about 10 people who knew how to craft one, but a resurgence happened in the 1970s when evening classes were established to teach interested people how to construct the instrument.
“It became this crae all over Sweden to build your own nyckelharpa,” said Johansson, adding that the number of players grew soon after and many nyckleharpa societies were formed in the 1980s.
While the nyckleharpa may have been the most distinct instrument on stage, it’s ust one piece of Väsen’s sound, which is often described as orchestral.
“We get that kind of comment a lot, even from classical musicians. It’s a really rich and full sound from the three of us because we tune down our instruments as well,” said Tallroth. “I’m really low in pitch and the five-string viola is both high and low so it’s sort of a mellow, rich sound as opposed to only fiddles.”
Johansson, Marin, and Tallroth are veterans of the Swedish music scene Väsen is set to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2014 – and have released 15 albums as a trio. Their set in Ingonish included many tunes from their latest, “Mindset.”
Tallroth said their first Celtic Colours experience has been a good one so far and that the Cape Breton event is quickly climbing their list of favourite festivals.
As is tradition at festival shows, the three bands came together for a finale set, to the delight of the capacity crowd at St. Peter’s Church.
Celtic Colours is in the home stretch with ust two days left of the nine-day festival. Friday, there are shows in Baddeck, L’Ardoise, Big Pond, Inverness, Sydney Mines, and the muchanticipated Songs of the Rankins show at the Savoy Theatre in Glace Bay, featuring a long list of some of the island’s best singers and musicians paying tribute to the legendary Rankin Family band, of Mabou. For a full schedule of events and ticket information go to www.celtic-colours.com.
“I'm not speaking in superlatives when I say that Väsen is one of the best bands in the world, and once again, they've delivered.” about.com
”Väsen has never been better”
”Gustavsson sees the sea in the drop of water when he listen to the Uppland trio Väsen’s new album Mindset.” UNT (translated from Swedish)