(Tutl, 2007)

Hvonn is a medicinal plant common in the Faroe Islands, an autonomous region of Denmark. Kvonn is a quartet of musicians from those islands, which are home to an amazing amount of music. They play traditional and contemporary folk music from Scandinavia.

Some Scandinavian music has an underlying melancholy, but there is little of that on these 15 tracks. What stands out is a peaceful, pastoral sense. The songs range from current compositions to "Hymn to St. Magnus," which comes from the 12th century.

Their use of piano is unusual on a folk album. Kristian Blak, who also plays harmonium, is perhaps the best known Faroe musician and has been reviewed on Rambles.NET for other groups he has led or participated in. His son Mikael Blak plays standup bass, also somewhat unusual in folk, since in an acoustic group it is difficult to hear. At a few points, both add a jazz sensibility to the songs.

The other members are Angelika Nielsen (fiddle), Sharon Weiss (recorder and spoons) and Ivar Baerentsen (mandolin, guitar and, on two cuts, fiddle). With fiddle, guitar, mandolin and recorder, many of the tunes sound Celtic, and the recorder sometimes sounds like a pennywhistle. The CD reflects the quieter forms of Celtic music. There are a few lively airs, but the group never tries to match the speed of Celtic rock, for example.

For Celtic and folk fans looking for beautiful melodies and something different, this is a CD worth exploring.

review by
Dave Howell

16 February 2008

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