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Featured Album June 2023: Lodestar Trio "Bach To Folk"

Featured Album June 2023: Lodestar Trio "Bach To Folk"

During June, we're thrilled to introduce you to a trio consisting of three leading virtuosos of their respective string instruments. Lodestar Trio released their genre-defying debut album Bach To Folk on the Naxos World label last year, and we at The Early Music Shop have been loving their fresh approach to Baroque dance music... Read on to find out more about the album!

Bach To Folk
Lodestar Trio


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From the artist's press release…

Lodestar Trio blaze a trail with their unprecedented ‘baroque meets folk’ repertoire. With renewed interpretations of baroque classics (Bach, Lully, Couperin…), folk tunes and new compositions, they push the boundaries of their mystical and magical Scandinavian string instruments. With Max Baillie on violin, Olav Luksengård Mjelva on Norwegian Hardanger fiddle and Erik Rydvall on Swedish nyckelharpa, they skilfully showcase the dexterity of each instrument, bringing out new qualities, whilst paying tribute to the roots of a much-honoured musical period.


Why The Early Music Shop loves "Bach To Folk":

The combination of Baroque dances and Scandinavian folk tunes might seem an unusual pairing, but on Bach To Folk, string ensemble Lodestar Trio effortlessly weave together music from these different, yet intrinsically related, backgrounds. With three virtuosic string players at the centre of this unique collaboration, Lodestar Trio create an impressively urgent and powerful sound.

Of course, this is a violin trio where only one of the instruments is actually a violin. That belongs to Max Baillie, the British-German player known for his work with cross-genre ensemble ZRI, and whose classical training and Bach specialism was the seed from which this project grew. Completing the trio is Olav Luksengård Mjelva on Hardanger fiddle, the beautiful national fiddle of Norway, and Erik Rydvall, on nyckelharpa, the Swedish keyed fiddle. Such was the innovation of the project that Rydvall commissioned a custom nyckelharpa simply to navigate the challenges of Bach’s compositions.

The Baroque repertoire on Bach To Folk is presented with a freshness of approach that blurs the boundaries between classical and folk music. With an altered emphasis and phrasing structure, the melodies can be heard in a totally new light. This is evident especially in the group’s interpretation of the Prelude from Bach’s Sixth Cello Suite BVW 1012, where the backbeat lilt and subtly swung rhythms frame the music as it’s never been heard before. Baillie’s description of Bach’s music as “groove-based” rings true.

This track leads straight onto Rydvall’s tune Jubileumspolska, one of four self-composed tracks which include writing credits for all three members of the group. The Baroque sensibilities of this tune, with its broken chord patterns, makes it a perfect fit for the album’s ethos, while maintaining the traditional Swedish ‘polska’ dance form. The sleevenotes describe how Rydvall intended the tune to sound joyful, and as with much of the rest of the album, this is more than an accurate description. Meanwhile, Baillie’s offering, Rolling to Røros, brings yet another dimension with swung rhythms hinting at an almost bluesy flavour.

With music by Lully, Couperin and Merula also featuring, this is a wide-spanning disc with a range of textural and sonic influences, all treated with the trio’s deft lightness. The excellent sleeve notes tie together the material with some helpful context to aid the listener’s journey through the ensemble’s creative vision.

The lasting impression of the album is one of freedom, the works intertwining with effortless ease. The sympathetic strings on the Hardanger fiddle and nyckelharpa give the recording an expansive and resonant sound which often exceeds the sound you might expect from just three instruments. Lodestar Trio are deeply respectful of all the traditions they represent, but their smorgasbord of influences, both Nordic folk and Baroque, make Bach To Folk a mesmerising listen.

Bach To Folk is in stock at The Early Music Shop now - order online or buy from our Snape Maltings showroom!

Click here to buy now!

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