“Denn beide sind wahre Meister ihres Fachs…auf höchstem Niveau musizieren”
“Denn beide sind wahre Meister ihres Fachs…auf höchstem Niveau musizieren”
“This duo goes straight to somewhere near the top of the ‘Musicians to See Live’ list.”
SARAH-JANE SUMMERS & JUHANI SILVOLA – Widdershins
Dell Daisy Records DELL006
A real cultural mix produces the goods here in this thoroughly likeable album. Widdershins is Highland Scots for anti-clockwise, or against the norm, and that is what is served up here. The combination of Inverness’ Sarah-Jane’s Scots-inflected fiddle and the virtuosic guitar of the Finnish Juhani Silvola is an exciting one. They live and play in Norway and must sound rather exotic there as well.
Most readers of this magazine will probably come at this via the fiddle, which has echoes of Shetland about it. At first glance, you might expect it to be the lead instrument, with the guitar getting second billing as an accompaniment. It is not, however, as simple as that. Juhani’s guitar is played with such attack and such imagination that it often seems to be straining to take centre stage. The result is, as the sleevenotes claim, “Virtuosic and innovative with a dark Nordic edge” – something that will chime with the current popularity of Scandinavian drama, perhaps.
This is not music, though, which hangs around admiring its own credentials. The other description that fits it very well is “powerhouse”. The 11 tracks were recorded live, in the same room, and were left completely unedited. Hence the infectious spontaneity achieved on tracks like Juhani’s Silver Spring Reel and Sarah Jane’s Spike On A Bike. There are times on those numbers (and on others) when Silvola, in particular, sounds destined to inflict terminal damage on his instrument. Happily, we all come out safely at the other side.
This duo goes straight to somewhere near the top of the ‘Musicians to See Live’ list.
For those of you who read Swedish, a review from Lira.
Lägg ordet Sydänyö på minnet! Hur svårt kan det vara? Lättare än att säga skotskt-finskt. Sydänyö betyder midnatt, eller mer poetiskt: Nattens hjärta. Denna cd:s första låt inleds med att Juhani Silvola lugnt plockar toner ur sin akustiska gitarr och Sarah-Jane Summers glissandon låter som om hon spelade med fiolstråken på såg. Fascinerande och ljuvligt melankoliskt.
Titellåten Widdershins kunde vara Sarah-Janes roliga performance om nordiska myggor, hon sågar med stråken på ett irriterande, vinande sätt i gitarrens ökande mörker, men det är enligt konvolutet hennes grandfather som bygger en klocka som råkar gå moturs (”widdershins”).
En låts historia kan vara underhållande, men resultatet är förstås viktigast. Det blev en schottis som får hjärtat att hoppa och benen att spritta. Sen fortsätter skivan med traditionella och nyskrivna reels som en antingen gillar, beroende på läggning, eller fort tröttnar på.
Skön andhämtning från hoppandet ger låten Vaajakosken Maija, skriven av Sarah-James till en väninna, den går att dansa en gangar eller stillsam slängpolska till.
Invid titeln på de egna kompositionerna står Tono, Norges motsvarighet till Stim. Tono har i höst, från sin största kvartalsavräkning någonsin, delat ut 131 miljoner till in- och utländska kompositörer, textförfattare och förlag. Det var ändå innan nyheten med Bob Dylan detonerade. Gilla Tono på Facebook! Och gilla Widdershins, förstås.
Recenserad av: Anne Brügge
Thanks to Rob Adams for this review of Widdershins in The Herald.
“An album full of contrasts…Widdershins makes a great case for seeing Summers and Silvola in concert.”
Album review: Sarah-Jane Summers & Juhani Silvola, Widdershins (Dell Daisy)
2 Dec 2016 / Rob Adams, Folk & Jazz critic
Sarah-Jane Summers & Juhani Silvola
Widdershins, Dell Daisy
THE Scottish-Scandinavian alliance continues with this Norway-based fiddle and guitar partnership’s second album.
As with another of the teams with connections from this side of the North Sea, the Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, Inverness-born fiddler Sarah-Jane Summers and Finnish guitarist Juhani Silvola pay due respect to their native traditions but are imaginative in their arrangements and pretty fearless in taking the music out into the margins.
Summers’ rugged title track borrows a word she learned from her grandfather but it’s unlikely that her esteemed fiddle teacher, the late Donald Riddell, is responsible the wild, atmospheric and exciting bowing style she brings to its more adventurous developments.
Silvola’s playing ranges from dainty and nimble to swashbuckling as the pair show a superb musical understanding and an easy interchange between melodist and accompanist roles.
An album full of contrasts – as illustrated by the delicately picked and pizz’ed Silver Spring Reel and the robust, characterful strathspey Donald Morison – Widdershins makes a great case for seeing Summers and Silvola in concert.
Nice words from R2 Magazine about Widdershins!
“Sarah-Jane and Juhani have a talent for musical invention that is rarely surpassed.”
Absolutely delighted to be awarded the prestigious Top of the World status from Songlines … for the second time in a row! This means that Widdershins can be heard on all longhaul BA flights!
“two musicians at their peak…one of the finest folk duos around”
“fiendishly clever … leaving you pondering how they did ’that’…” (Bright Young Folk)
Great review of Widdershins from Bright Young Folk.
Confidence is important in instrumental music. Widdershins, the new album by Sarah-Jane Summers & Juhani Silvola, shows it all the way from the overall concept down to individual notes.
The glissandos in the first track, Sydänyö, are strong and exciting. Although not unusual in Scottish music, the effect of these is to establish the interesting position of this album, being based in Norway, halfway between Summers and Silvola, of Scotland and Finland.
The second track (which is also called Widdershins), is Scottish in origin, and means ’anti-clockwise’ or ’against the sun’, and this is taken to heart, with as much unexpected ornamentation as possible. It’s as if they’re deliberately taking the least logical way through the melody.
You may end up wanting the guitar to be given an equal footing with the fiddle. The counterpoint provided in Vaajakosken Maija is fiendishly clever, and throughout the album, the chord voicings are exciting, though subtle.
Silver Spring Ring allows the guitar pride of place. The syncopation in the plucked fiddle makes an already racing track into a crazy race you’re happy to let pass you by. The track finishes quickly, leaving you pondering how they did ’that’ on their instruments.
Although this may make it seem that they are simply good at making strange noises on their instruments, the strange noises play into the tracks. A’ Cheapach na Fasach is a tune written in memory of a seventeenth century murder, and the haunting fiddle slides and vibrato really play into this.
Widdershins is fast paced, confusing and clever. Summers and Silvola are exciting, and the sound is thrown straight out at you, percussive and open. Nordic and Celtic music clearly mix well, especially when the listener is guided through it with such clarity and musicality.
Great to get this 5/5 star review of Widdershins today from Northern Sky Magazine.
“a fascinatingly impassioned conversation”
You get the distinct feeling, with Sarah-Jane Summers and Juhani Silvola’s latest outing WIDDERSHINS, that you’re in earshot of a fascinatingly impassioned conversation. And there’s no need to eavesdrop; on the contrary, the tête-à-tête is going on right under your nose, brazen as can be, without ever concealing itself behind closed fingers and breathy whispers. Sarah-Jane’s fiddle, a sprightly, female voice, leaps and dives over the surface of Juhani’s deep and sagacious acoustic guitar, the two often intertwining for moments of delicate respect and glistening, limpid kinship. And both voices are articulated with tongues of solid silver; Juhani moves crisply from chord to chord, note to note whilst Sarah-Jane manages to retain all the seductive expression of heartfelt Scottish and Norwegian folk music whilst reaching the speckless agility of a world class symphony violinist. Sarah-Jane Summers is, of course, a member of Scottish quartet Rant and the founder of Norwegian-Scottish outfit Fribo as well as a well-respected music teacher, whilst Juhani Silvola is one of Norway’s foremost musicians, composers and producers.
Just like it says on the tin, WIDDERSHINS is an album that goes against the grain, constantly pressing against the boundaries to reach moments of genuinely fearless ambition. So whilst Silver Spring Wheel may well be a jaunty little tune on anyone else’s album, on WIDDERSHINS it becomes a mesmeric, flickering dance that, towards its final bars, melts into a barely audible flutter of plucks. Similarly, on Vaajakosken Maija, a delightfully tranquil tune rolls towards a truly haunting conclusion, courtesy of Sarah-Jane’s mournful, weeping fiddle. The album culminates in a fiery exchange with Spike on a Bike, a tune that puts so much demand on both guitarist and fiddler that you’re left with little else to do than to hold your breath. With its exhilarating pounding of both fingerboard and fretboard, this album closes on its knees, begging to be played again and, quite possibly, again.
The single was impressive enough, but here they show an even broader spectrum of what can be achieved with just fiddle and guitar.
Sarah-Jane Summers og Juhani Silvola
Aktuell fordi: duoen som tidligere i år ga ut låten «Widdershins», til positiv omtale blant annet fra denne kanten, har nå kommet med et helt album med samme tittel. Singelen var imponerende nok, men her får de vist et enda bredere spekter av hva de kan få til med kun fele og gitar. De varierer fint innenfor både tradisjonell folkemusikk med skotske og norske undertoner, og en noe tyngre og energisk stil. Silvola har bakgrunn blant annet fra støyrock og black metal, samt studier innen jazz. Summers har sin musikalske tyngde fra en skotsk familie med flere generasjoner av musikere, i tillegg til studier ved Norges Musikkhøgskole. Begge har også bakgrunn fra improvisasjonsmusikk, og dette er et eksperimentelt samtidsprosjekt som viser frem to meget dyktige musikere.
Here’s a quick translation for those who don’t speak Norwegian:
Current because: the duo who earlier this year released the track “Widdershins” to great critical acclaim including from us in this corner, have now released a full album with the same title. The single was impressive enough, but here they have shown an even broader spectrum of what can be achieves with just fiddle and guitar. They move easily within both traditional folk music with Scottish and Norwegian undertones and a slightly heavier and energetic style. Silvola has a background in, amongst others, noise rock and black metal, as well as having studied jazz. Summers gained her musical depths from being part of a Scottish family with several generations of musicians, in addition to studies at the Norwegian State Academy of Music. Both also have a background in improvisational music, and this is an experimental contemporary project that showcases two very talented musicians.
I have been spending today beside the stove, cup of tea in hand, going through old messages and emails that I hadn’t yet answered. It’s amazing how quickly they pile up when you are focussing on other things like travelling, packing, unpacking, repacking, practising, etc. Anyway, I came across this photo taken by Svein Holthe at one of the first gigs of the Norwegian part of our Widdershins album launch tour at one of our favourite ever venues: Galleri Fenka in Levanger.
Galleri Fenka is not only run by extremely kind, warm, helpful, generous, creative people, but it also houses amazing, inspiring art. To play in such a space is really special. On this occasion, we got to play in front of a Pushwagner painting no less! Apologies to the audience for blocking their view of it!
A huge thank you to FolkJazzScena and to Ingrid Hojem in particular for having us and for looking after us so well.
I can’t help but notice that we are both looking very tanned (yes, yes, it’s all relative, you know!) in this photo. I can quite safely say that the tan has disappeared and I am now back to looking almost as white as the snow on the ground outside!
If you’re not already familiar with Pushwagner, click here and prepare to be dazzled by detail and colour! I’m a massive fan!
Hope you have a good day.