You can think of Ilmajousi-Luftstråk as a meeting of Scandinavian minds. Accordion player Maria Kalaniemi co-leads this 2000 session with Swedish fiddler Sven Ahlbåck, and the end result is a very interesting cultural exchange. Kalaniemi, of course, is from Finland -- traditional Finnish folk is her strong point, whereas Ahlbåck's main focus has been traditional Swedish folk. But Kalaniemi is also quite capable of playing Swedish material, and Ahlbåck is hardly oblivious to Nordic cultures that exist outside of Sweden. So on this engaging CD, the Scandinavians find a lot of common ground. Finnish and Swedish elements do more than coexist on Ilmajousi-Luftstråk -- they complement one another, and listeners are reminded of the parallels between the two traditions. Comparing the folk traditions of Finland and Sweden is sort of like comparing the Irish and Scottish schools of Celtic music, or comparing Vietnamese and Korean music -- the two are similar, but not identical. It isn't unheard of for Scottish-Celtic musicians from Glasgow to travel to Dublin and play jigs and reels with Irish-Celtic musicians; similarly, Kalaniemi and Ahlbåck have no problem getting together and providing a meaningful Finnish/Swedish exchange. Most of the material on this CD is instrumental, although Swedish vocalist Susanne Rosenberg is featured on three of the 17 tracks. And those tracks range from traditional, time-honored Scandinavian repertoire (including "Orpolasten Polska" and "Sörglåten") to originals by Kalaniemi and Ahlbåck. English speakers will be glad to know that the Stockholm-based Amigo Musik provides an English-language translation of the liner notes that Kalaniemi and Ahlbåck wrote for the album -- and that's in addition to the Swedish and Finnish translations. Ilmajousi-Luftstråk is recommended to anyone who has a taste for traditional Scandinavian folk.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson