The Rheingans Sisters Bright Field
Review by David Smith
This is the third recording by the talented Rowan and Anna Rheingans, from the Peak District of England. They have continued to mature as musicians, writing, producing and arranging all of the original tunes and songs on Bright Field. Their musical development was undoubtedly helped by their proximity to music in their own home. Their mother was a folk musician, and their father builds musical instruments, including those played by the sisters.
The sisters also pay tribute to their many European influences – music they have studied first hand from Norway and Sweden, France, and Britain.
Bright Field has a thematic focus on the natural world, with such titles as “This Forest,” “Edge of the Field,” “Three Springs,” and the title track. On the opening track, "Glattugla," they present listeners with a slow- to-unfold fiddle tune which slowly builds into a propulsive track inspired by the icy roads of Norway in Winter. The Norwegian-influenced tune features both sisters ripping along while creating wonderful instrumental harmonies.
"This Forest" features Rowan singing about the impacts of contemporary society on the natural world to fiddle accompaniment. The song ends with a rather mournful melody played on the whistle. Is there hope for us?
The strongest fiddle set on the record is "Xavier’s/The Honeybee," featuring two beautiful tunes, the first by Anna’s former music teacher, Xavier Vidal, and the second by Anna herself. These are challenging and rewarding tunes, skillfully played by both sisters.
It’s important to point out the gorgeous tone of the fiddles played throughout the record (thanks to the dad, Helmut), and true as well with the banjos and other instruments featured on the album. Mr. Rheingans knows how to pick the right woods for his creations. The richness in tone of these instruments is very noticeable, and just wonderful to listen to. I can only imagine how the sisters must feel while playing them
"Lo Segoner" is a fiddle tune written in the style of the Bearn region of southwest France. It’s a dance tune, but one that almost plays in waltz time. The 2 sisters sing behind the fiddle melody. This shows they are never hesitant to go away from standard forms, and improvise the mix of fiddles and voices.
The gorgeous vocal harmonies displayed by the sisters are no more evident than on "Green Unstopping," where they show off that sibling connection very well.
"Edge of the Field" has the feel of a ‘memory piece’ as sung by an elderly woman remembering her favorite natural places to roam in from her youth, with beautiful singing by Rowan.
The threat to the environment by industrial development is a recurring theme on this recording. The title cut and "Dark Nights/Swinghorn" illustrate this in different, but effective ways. This is high quality music with a social conscience. - David Smith