‘Tales and Golden Histories’ is the new album from the harpist Lily Neill and the cellist Vesa Norilo.
The pair met in 2005 and formed a musical alliance which saw them performing together and exploring new musical arrangements while in Finland together. This album is a mix of both traditional folk music from around the world and their own Celtic inspired compositions.
The album opens with a mysterious cello solo featuring percussive sound effects and eerie harmonics, which sets the scene for music inspired by the bleak, evocative landscape of Finland.Throughout the album, Neill and Norilo take it in turns to share the melody while the other plays a supporting accompaniment, often with innovative and diverse ideas, thus really pushing the boundaries of their instruments and creating really diverse musical soundscapes. At times, it’s hard to believe that their are only two string players performing, such is the expansive orchestral canvas that they paint.
There are echoes of Loreena McKennitt at times, and the musical duo play with great imagination taking the listener through a range of different textures and timbres to accomplish a contemporary feel to traditional Celtic melodies.
‘Akuvalssi’ is a particular highlight from the alum. It is a waltz by the fiddler and composer Konsta Jylhä and was inspired by his experience while having acupuncture! It opens with the harp playing icy and angelic octaves while the cello plays sul ponticello, harmonics and subtle glissando before going on to carry the infectious tune. The overall effect is rather like ‘Danse Macabre’ by Saint-Saëns. It is dark, yet bleakly beautiful – and spiky, of course! This track then seamlessly leads into a Swedish Polska which sees the cello playing strident double stops ahead of the harp creating a delicate lullaby melody. The changes in time signature and bold cello playing remind me of a Bartok Romanian Dance.
‘Where We Danced’ is an original composition by Lily Neill and is a gorgeous lilting and contemplative Celtic melody which is reminiscent for me in nature of the Londonderry Air.
The album also features medleys of traditional Celtic melodies which are played so hauntingly by the harp alongside faster paced reels showing off the capabilities of the driving and dizzying rhythms played so well by the cello.
‘Tales and Golden Histories’ is a thoroughly enjoyable album from a highly talented duo and will take you on a musical journey that will both soothe and uplift you.
Sue Aston | Now Spinning Magazine