At Caprice Records, we are delighted to present Lynx Ensemble, and their fantastic debut album Baroque Tales – an imaginative musical retelling of the baroque origins of Hälsingland’s characteristic folk music, and a production made during the dramatic “pandemic year” of 2020, where creative solutions and distance work resulted in an album we couldn’t possibly be more proud of!
A musical journey to the north-eastern region of Hälsingland lies at the heart of this album by Lynx Ensemble. All over Sweden, a significant portion of the popular instrumental repertoire has its roots in the dance music of 18th century Europe. In Hälsingland, however, this musical idiom has been preserved in a distinctive way. Although all the melodies in this album were collected from the playing of 19th century violinists, the way in which these melodies are composed looks back to the century before that. The long, asymmetrical phrases and dazzling passages that draw upon rich and meaningful bass progressions are all staples of the so called “galant style”. Music from Hälsingland thus truly brings to mind a “rough pearl”, as the word “baroque” translates.
The settings in this programme aim to highlight this inimitable quality by applying some of the compositional techniques that were used in the 18th century. While these dance melodies have been documented unaccompanied, their narrative harmonic content makes it possible to imagine an accompanying bass line. That bass line then gets a life of its own, and from it emerge many other possible voices. These in turn can be arranged in any texture that comes to mind: in dialog or in unison, in parallel or contrary motion, as a free polyphonic fantasy, with points of imitation or in a canon. Traditional accompaniment techniques such as drones, double stops and parallel thirds need not be excluded either. And while the main melody is sometimes completely absent, it is never compromised. The idea was not to reconstruct a “historically correct” performance practice for a Swedish “folk-baroque”. Rather, it was to call forth a fantasy in which the already glamorous Hälsingland melodies are donned in golden thread, so that they may shine in all their splendour.
In order to do that, a mix of traditional Swedish and baroque instruments was chosen. A prominent basso continuo section consisting of harpsichord (Avinoam Shalev) and baroque cello (Nora Matthies) was joined with three treble instruments: violin (Linnea Aall Campbell), nyckelharpa (Anna Gustavsson), and recorders (Netta Huebscher). The combination of instruments brought with it an interplay between different musical experiences and playing styles that is the essence of Lynx Ensemble.
he production of this album has taken place in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, preventing Lynx Ensemble’s cellist Nora Matthies from travelling to Sweden to participate in the recordings. We are deeply grateful to cellist Leonor Palazzo for having joined us on this occasion to record all the cello parts in this album. The extent of her invaluable contribution has gone well beyond mere playing and has indeed enriched all aspects of our creative work and vision.
Recorded and mastered by Johannes Lundberg, 1-4 June 2020 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Graphic design: Olsson-Ingers
Photography: Francis Löfvenholm
Executive producer: Erik Hamrefors
MUSIC: TRADITIONAL/LYNX ENSEMBLE