An homage to the wildlife and mountain people of Benedicte Maurseth’s home area in Hardanger
“This is a beautiful shapeshifter of an album. Part a portrait of a landscape, part the opening of a veil on some family history, part nature walk in Norway. It’s satisfying and strangely elusive, all at the same time. The music follows winding paths of the imagination, mixing Maurseth’s Hardanger fiddle with subtly-placed electronics and other instruments to create a moving, inviting bed of sound. “Heilo,” for instance, the longest piece on the disc, presents an utterly different artist from her 2019 solo release. Or does it? The music certainly isn’t traditional by any means, but the nature, the history that goes back generations – what is that but tradition? No pyrotechnics here, no devil’s trills. It’s Maurseth, embracing the past and touching the ground that has formed who she is. The result is gently majestic.» - Chris Nicson (Rootsworld)
The acclaimed and innovative visionary musician Benedicte Maurseth is coming forth with the wonderful all-consuming album Hárr. The sound of her magic Hardanger fiddle is woven seamlessly together with that of birds and the other musicians’ musical impressions. Always moving forward with a steely calm disposition, the record draws you into a world where one feels to be one with nature, wandering over a mountain plateau. Benedicte was raised in Maurset in Eidfjord – near Hardangervidda National Park – and has hiked through the mountains her whole life, clearly laying the foundation for this musical expedition.
As traditional folk musicians have always been, Maurseth is open to contemporary influences from interactive art and music styles. The work Hárr oscillates between Norwegian folk tunes, free improvised music, American minimalism, and extensive use of musique concrète. In the tracks you will also hear natural soundscapes via the shufflings of reindeer, reindeer herders, birds and insects all recorded in Hardangervidda.
“Working creatively and hiking in the mountains are very much the same to me. Both evoke and require the same presence as well as a deep listening that makes the senses open and clear. They are both something that can be done alone or in company, in conversation or in silence. Both require time, patience and thoughtful repetition and give a necessary reminder of something else, something bigger than ourselves.” -Benedicte Maurseth
Benedicte is among other things inspired by ecosophy, the school of environmental philosophy developed by Arne Næss which states that humankind is not the center of the natural world but rather an equal participant in it. The tune “Heilo” displays what it is to be one with nature in the best way; the musicians play with and variate upon the rhythm of the characteristic bird sound. The track “kollasj I” summarizes in many ways the vision behind the whole work. It consists of interviews with Benedicte’s great-great-grandfather Franz Gustav Andersson Törna from Northern Sweden and her great-grandfather Leif Maurseth, both of them being hunters and reindeer herders.
Hárr was commissioned by Hardanger Musikkfest in 2019, composed by Maurseth, and arranged and performed in collaboration with master musicians Mats Eilertsen and Håkon Stene among others. “Hárr” is the Norse name for Hårteigen, the most characteristic mountain in Hardangervidda.
Benedicte Maurseth, Hardanger fiddle player, composer and author, is an established and recognized performer. She has been the pupil of master-fiddler Knut Hamre for several decades and has toured extensively as a soloist both in Norway and internationally. She has collaborated with many of the foremost artists in a variety of genres such as Nils Økland, Marilyn Crispell, Rolf Lislevand, Jon Fosse and Anne Marit Jacobsen. Maurseth has several commissioned works for theater, film and music under her belt. For the work Tidekverv which premiered in 2017 she was given the NOPA music award and her song “Very full” for Marvel Studio for the TV-series Loki was recently ranked highly on the billboard-charts. Maurseth has written books, articles and essays in addition to recording several albums with Grappa Musikkforlag and ECM Records.