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Friday 14 June 2024

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Flight Paths -Siskin Quartet           

May 14, 2023

 

The four musicians on this album have taken migrating birds as their leitmotif. Given that they are of Swedish, English, Scottish and Norwegian descent, and three of them have settled in new countries this theme is as unsurprising.  Their deeply-rooted traditional music soars, dives, glides and charms in this assured, confident collaboration of two established duos (Bridget Marsden/Lief Ottosson and Sarah-Jane Summers/Juhani Silvola). Each of the band members has written material and Sarah-Jane’s ‘The Peewit’ is the perfect opener. We are immediately airborne in jubilant aerobatics shaded with concerned reflection on the future of this now threatened species. In ‘Eagle Huntress’ you know you are being watched. The Huntress has taken flight, soaring and riding the air but with dark intent as well as joy.

And talking of birds of prey, the delightful ensemble opening of Lief’s ‘Time Flies’ would make a vulture grin.  This is a gem of a piece – a blissful, stomping theme gives way to an interlude where tapping feet are stilled and senses are raised yet again by swooping fiddles locked in an intricate dance before darting back into the uplifting main theme. Lief’s ‘Midnattssol’ was written as a wedding gift for friends. Fortunate friends! Accordion and electric guitar prepare the way for the fiddles to take up the beguiling waltz tune. Lief notes that he wrote the tune “for the time of year when the birds never cease to stop chatting, just like humans.” Bridget’s ‘Morning Green’ is sparse and cold, yet peaceful and understanding, an irresistible beckoning towards personal reflections.

‘Flight Paths’ is a broad collection of Swedish-style polskas, reels and airs with fine improvisations, rich sounds and cleverly understated sonic experimentation – a shout here to the mastering of Helga Sten.  The fusion of the two duos is a heady mix, and after the flights of joy, peace and grace, Juhani’s expansive and intoxicating ‘Albatrossi’ will steer you home.

Splendid.

Bob Langstaff.

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