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Flairck - Variaties Op Een Dame CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.92 | 44 ratings

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5 stars The brilliant and startling debut from this collective of young Dutch virtuosi inspired by classical and folk traditions far and wide.

1. "Aoife" (6:28) opens with a soft, laid back, beautiful weave between two string instruments (the Visser brothers' guitars). After a few rounds, in the third minute, the viola and panpipes join in. There is a slight shift in melody with a key shift at the 3:53 mark, the instrumental composition staying the same but everyone moving up the scales a bit to higher pitches. At 5:05 we drop back into the mid-range--though, again, there is a slight shift of melody and pacing. Beautiful song. What an opener! (13.5/15)

2. "Voorspel in Sofia" (7:06) opens with first one guitar, and then another, picking and strumming at a fast speed (they're in a hurry!) before panpipes enter and present the fast melody. At 1:15 the violin enters and there is a shift in structure and form though the pacing is still very fast and relentless. At 2:20 another shift in rhythmic structure ushers in a section in which panpipes and violin trade soli for a minute until bird-chirping from each instrument distracts us from a major slowdown from the guitars beneath. This new slow section doesn't change much in terms of structure or melody as violin and panpipes continue alternating their exposition and play with the pre-existing melody. At 5:45 Erik switches over to his mandola as Hans takes up the acoustic bass as the music speeds back up to the original pacing and as the panpipes and violin continue vying for the lead. (13.5/15)

3. "April 3rd" (5:39) sitar and mandola open this with a slow, spacious structure in which to present a variation on the main melodic theme of the Adagio from Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez. Before the end of the first minute the sitar's lead switches the melody to something else--original or not, perhaps Celtic (more in the vein of Alan Stivell's work), it is familiar. In the fourth minute the sitar leaves and a flute takes its place. The sitar returns and kind of weaves its lower-range melody into the mix though the flute retains the lead. Nice song. (9/10)

4. "Oneven Wals (7:17) guitar and violin open this song with soft, delicate note interplay before being joined by flute (multiple?) and violin (multiple?). The weave is very soothing and flowing until the end of the third minute when a bridge signals the tempo change that happens at the 3:00 mark. A quickened pace yet retaining the smooth, aquatic flow of the music opens The fast, almost frenzied pace of the two lead instruments--the flute and violin--in the seventh minute is This may be the song that displays these musicians' virtuosity the best. I would also not be surprised to learn that this song was developed and recorded later than the previous three as it's engineering and compositional sophistication seems greater, deeper. (14/15)

5. "Variaties op een Dame (21:25) opening with four instrumentalists entering into a relaxed conversation using a melody familiar to me from Celtic music (or Pucchini opera). Eventually, in the third minute, yielding the center of attention to allow each of the others to have turns "speaking." The pastoral pacing is like a relaxed stroll on the grounds of a country estate or a pleasant tea on the veranda under the afternoon June sun. At 4:40 the music switches gears though the "Ode to Joy"-like melodic theme dominates the violin's play as the piccolo plays his own separate melody and guitar and double bass accompany. In the seventh minute a kind of Vivaldi lull falls upon the quintet as the violin falls into the telling of a particularly heart-wrenching story (using a melodic theme that is familiar to me from Alan Stivell's "Ys" from Renaissance of the Celtic Harp) This long unaccompanied violin solo again moves into Vivaldi territory with several familiar melodic themes being employed--including some more of Rodrigo. This continues to the 10:40 mark when everybody jumps back into a frenzy of activity, fast but not unnerving or chaotic, rather contrived work activity. At 12:30 we have evolved into a dance-like jig with multiple sections repeating over and over with collective weaves and solo sections, but all flowing seemlessly at the same pace. At 13:20 this stops and shifts into a more Iberian theme and style with some nice dual-instrument (piccolo and violin) presentation of the melody while the acoustic guitars strum along in a Spanish fashion. Another abrupt end at 15:14 opens the door for a more minimalists section in which a single bass guitar arpeggio and transverse flute plays a soft, distant, multi-octave melody. Guitars join in softly and the flute solo moves front and center to become more jazz-like until everything scales back again in the eighteenth minute to allow bass arpeggio be the lone supporter for a very active, breathy, vocal-accompanied/augmented flute solo. A very cool section! At the 19:00 mark everything cuts out once more, leaving space in which a viola enters to lay down a slow, plaintive melody. Violin is eventually joined by as the music starts to slowly construct a kind of Romani song, with instruments and pacing coming together slowly and then picking up faster and faster until the panpipes, violin and guitars are brought to a crescendo to close. Wow! What a trip! What masterful performances of a truly amazing composition! I can find neither fault or detriment to either the music or the level of engagement proffered by this song. This is about as close to perfection as music can get. (39/40)

6. "Dubbelspel (1:22) a fast run through a kind of lullaby or nursery song using a folk-bluegrass style. (4.25/5)

Total Time: 49:17

Five stars; a masterpiece of progressive folk music and a shining example of what virtuosic instrumentalists can create with traditional instruments and melodies.

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |


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