If you’ve seen any Australian period-instrument orchestras you’ve probably seen Tommie Andersson playing the theorbo as part of the continuo. He’s quite an institution by now, having co-founded the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra as well as co-directing Ludovico’s Band.
This CD, however, is a recording from the mid-1980s of Andersson performing as part of a guitar/lute duo with Hållbus Totte. What’s particularly unusual, however, is that the disc is of traditional Swedish folk fiddle music. It was planned to come out on a specialist folk-music label, but for one reason or another was never released. Now, more than 30 years later, the album is finally available.
Apparently Swedish folk music doesn’t usually use much in the way of plucked instruments, so the duo were something of a rarity when they first arrived on the scene. If that’s the case, you’d never know it. Switching freely between classical guitars and lutes, the polskas here sound completely natural in their new duo format. On several tracks the duo is joined by fiddlers – and the owners of the record label the album was intended to be released on – Magnus Bäckström and Per Gudmundson, a quartet collectively known as the Nordic Strings. These are particularly fun – the fiddle playing is raw and vivacious, and the duo respond in kind to the spurring-on of the violins.
All in all, it’s fascinating hearing a well-known player in an unfamiliar format. I can’t say that such a specialist release is essential but it’s certainly full of charm and spirit.