Mats Edén


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When Americans think of Swedish artists, they think of ABBA's infectious Europop. But Sweden was giving the world great music centuries before the members of ABBA were even born, a lot of which was played on the fiddle. Scandinavian fiddle music had a major influence on Celtic music, which means that it also had an impact on American country and bluegrass. One of Sweden's traditional fiddlers is Mats Edén, who doesn't play the fiddle exclusively on Avtryck -- this instrumental CD finds him paying even more attention to the accordion (another instrument that has played a prominent role in traditional Scandinavian music). In Sweden, some fiddlers have taken a worldbeat approach to the fiddle, combining Swedish folk with electric rock, funk, and even hip-hop. But on Avtryck, Edén's approach is acoustic and entirely traditional. The 27 pieces that Edén embraces on this CD come from the repertoire he learned from two Swedish instrumentalists who are no longer living: Alfred Magnusson (b. 1890, d. 1986) and Oskar Andersson (b. 1898, d. 1986). Both of them lived very long lives; Magnusson, who was in his late nineties when he died, was old enough to remember a time when you needed a horse to get from one end of Stockholm to another. And thankfully, the sort of Swedish fiddle music that they were known for is still alive and well. Although Avtryck's main focus is Swedish repertoire, Edén occasionally detours into Norwegian material. But because the Swedish and Norwegian folk traditions are similar -- not identical, but similar -- Avtryck never sounds erratic or unfocused. Nor does it sound stiff; whether he is playing the fiddle or accordion, Edén brings a lot of warmth, charisma, and enthusiasm to these traditional performances.

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