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CD Review: Herluf Donslund

Harp and Soul

Key-fiddle: Herluf Donslund
Guitar: Palle Aarslev
Double Bass: Jytte Jensen and Ole Stripp
Organ: Else Madsen
Bagpipes: Keld Norgaard and Birthe Boock
Hurdy-Gurdy: Poul Lendal
Clarinet: Hans Erik Johnsen
Cittern: Keld Norgaard
Tenor Banjo: Michael Petersen
Trumpet: Thomas Quwang
Maracas: Birthe Boock
Piano Accordion: Else Madsen
Button Accordion: Torben Ejersbo
Diatonic Button Accordion: Carl Erik Lundgaard Jensen


Hymn for Mads
Waltz for Christine
Ceylon's Hambo
Serras No. 9, 8 and 4
The Peasant and the Hare
The Boy's March
An Evening at Norrelund
Bakkegard Polska
Chicken-Soren's Dance
The Swab
Hojby Riflemen's March
Polska from Lovstabruk
Three Sisters
Adam and Eve
Polska from Vasterbotten
Waltz for Herluf
Waltz in October
Melodi C / Glory and Honour be to God
Little Scottish for Herluf

Total time: 69:56
Released in 1993

Label: Danica Records (DCD 8156)

OH Musik aps
Jersie Strandvej 5
PO Box 49
DK 2680 Solrod Strand
phone: (+45) 5314 6644
FAX: (+45) 5314 6667
e mail:

In North America:
Albany Music Distributors
Box 5011
Albany, NY 12205-0011
phone: 518-453-2203
FAX: 518-453-2205

Review by Henry Doktorski:

The key-fiddle has existed for at least 400 years and can be seen in the frescoes in Rynkeby Church, East Funen, which date from about 1560. The historical frescoed key-fiddle player appears on the cover of the CD booklet: an angelic robed figure playing an amazingly large instrument (almost as big as a cello), and facing a bespectacled and bearded Herluf Donslund -- Denmark's leading key-fiddler -- who is shown playing his own instrument.

The key fiddle (which according to the cover photo, appears to have about 16 strings) is bowed with the right hand, while the fingers of the left hand press down on one of some 20 keys which change the pitches. This CD is unique, since it is the first Danish recording of music for the key-fiddle -- the featured instrument in all 23 tracks. The fiddle is accompanied by various instruments, including guitar, double bass, hurdy-gurdy, clarinet, cittern, banjo, trumpet, maracas, bagpipes, pipe organ and three types of accordions.

The key-fiddle is a natural instrument for folk music, which is superbly demonstrated by the nearly 70 minutes of music on this recording. Each track is truly a work of art and all the pieces are tasteful, relaxed and never hurried. The tunes are solidly crafted, the harmonies are beautiful, the counterpoint well-written and each one of the performers contributes important musical substance to the album.

Most of the music was composed by Donslund himself, although some pieces were composed by other musicians on the album and a few pieces are arrangements of very old Danish and Swedish folk tunes. Track one (Air) is a delightful trio of key-fiddle, pipe organ and bagpipes. One of my favorite tracks is #3 -- Waltz for Christine -- a duet for key-fiddle and diatonic accordion. The accordion is featured in many other pieces, such as: An Evening at Norrelund, Bakkegard Polska, September, Polska from Lovstabruk, Bondebjerg Scottish, Three Sisters and Waltz in October. I especially enjoyed the tuba-bass tones of Torben Ejersbo's chromatic accordion in Polska from Lovstabruk; such a wonderful sound!

The CD booklet notes -- written in Danish and English -- are informative and fun to read. I believe that the title of this album, "Harp and Soul," is appropriate; Donslund's music provides a welcome relief from the stress and frustration of today's increasingly "soul-less" society. I recommend this album for lovers of traditional folk-music and lovers of simple and beautiful melodies.

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