I didn’t expect, at the age of 50, to discover an instrument of which I’d never heard. This would be understandable if its provenance were a distant continent whose shores my occasionally itchy feet had yet to reach. However, the instrument concerned, the nyckelharpa,
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/V5LwTr-nEm4?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
hails from Sweden, a country I visited on a trip with Lothian Region Orchestra and Jazz Orchestra in 1994. Its haunting sound is produced by four bowed strings, and twelve resonance or sympathetic strings.
Apart from a pre-emptory visit to their myspace page (which features mp3s and video footage), I had, to my shame, little knowledge of Bellevue Rendezvous when I went to see them in The Wee Folk Club, in the intimate basement of one of Edinburgh’s traditional music haunts – The Royal Oak.
I was enchanted by the sound of the trio (nyckelharpa, fiddle, cittern) and by the engaged, joyous musicianship of the its members, Ruth, Gavin, Cameron. Every journey along East Lothian’s roads since then has been graced by their CD, Salamander , which I bought at the gig. It is a fantastic recording – the product of Pencaitland’s Castle Sound Studios. I was also impressed by the beautiful musical arrangements and the eclecticism of the programme which, in addition to original material, featured tunes from France (especially Brittany), Serbia, Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Macedonia & Poland.
If you happen to be in Edinburgh and free from 12:00 – 13:00 on June 22, 23, 24 then you can catch Bellevue Rendezvous (free of charge) in St. Giles Cathedral.
You can also hear Bellevue Rendezvous on Spotify.
I look forward to seeing them again – perhaps in The Lammermuir Festival 2011 – a trio such as this was made for some of East Lothian’s intimate church acoustics…..