Ice and Longboats: Ancient Music of Scandinavia
Ake & Jens Egevad; Ensemble Marie Balticum
What would the music of the Vikings have sounded like? This CD offers a partial response to this question and more, as it takes the listener on a journey through soundscapes of two periods: music improvised on Viking era (800-1050 AD) instruments, as well as notated songs and instrumental items from the early centuries of Christianity in Scandinavia.
The second volume in Delphian Records’ groundbreaking collaboration with the European Music Archaeology Project, Ice and Longboats showcases the work of the versatile Ensemble Mare Balticum, as well as the remarkable father/son team of Åke and Jens Egevad. The Egevads are musicians and reconstructors of ancient instruments. They built the wooden lurs (trumpets), frame drums, bone flutes, hornpipe, animal horn and Viking lyres heard on this recording.
The selections mostly alternate between instrumental and vocal songs, with occasional dramatic shifts in mood and texture between tracks. The delicate medieval bone recorder is contrasted with the declamatory sounds of the lurs, and the simplicity of the bells provides a foil to the more elaborate medieval vocal and ensemble sections.
Standouts include the lyre duet on In the Village: evening, the Jew’s harp solo (played by Ute Goedecke) on Gaudet mater ecclesia and the sublime vocals on Nobilis humilis. The overall sound is pristine, as the music was recorded in the historic (ca. 1100s) Oppmanna church in Sweden. A beautiful and illuminating recording, Ice and Longboats is a voyage worth taking.