Harald Haugaard: Lys Og Forfald


Lys Og Forfald
Pile House Records 0714


This, as Danish fiddler Haugaard states in his extensive liner notes, is the culmination of a trilogy he began a few years ago with Burning Fields. What’s apparent is the way his music’s changed in that time. The self-conscious debut of that earlier disc, very ambitious in its grasp has become more introspective, and the compositional sense more developed. Add to that a band that’s thoroughly road-tested and several splendid guests, and Haugaard has created that’s remarkable on several levels. He’s long being hailed as a virtuoso on his instrument, one who came up early through Danish folk music. But now he’s a man happy in his own skin, with nothing to prove.

There’s still plenty of fire in his playing when he needs it, as on “Skye-Havnen,” but this is very much an album of reflections – as the title of the disc says, of light and decay, as if well illustrated by the title cut. Some of the loveliest pieces here are the sparsest, like “September,’ a duet with Vasen’s Roger Tallroth, or “Prelude,” the piece Haugaard penned for cello and piano. Wife Helene Blum is involved – a ghost of a vocal on “Port Orford” and (literally) playing second fiddle on a couple of tracks – as Haaugaard resurrects his rock-folk band Serras for “Little Girl” that proves he still has plenty of drive in him. However, it’s “Nacht Des Unbekannten” that stands out, bringing in German group Fraunhofer Saitenmusik to augment some of his own band, and the mix works magically. He’s become a composer of great delicacy and emotion.

The trilogy ends almost as it began, with “Morning.” Where the earlier version had fiddle and cello, this is Haugaard’s violin alone and unadorned. It’s a perfect ending to a disc that’s a showcase for the maturity in his writing and especially his playing. He always had the incredible technique (listen to some of his work as half of Haugaard and Hoirup). But this breathes. He’s found the depth of feeling to match his prowess, and that raises him to an entirely higher level.

Chris Nickson

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