A quartet of superb Québecois musicians bond over a love of Nordic music, and what they put together is nothing short of sparkling. Virtually all original work, there’s a real joy in their exploration here, a sense of listening and giving each other space, as well as excitement in performing which gives such a driving quality to the opener, the very Swedish-inflected “Le Retour Du Drakkar.”
The interplay between the violins, viola, mandolin, Baroque guitar and bass is always delightful, and the very clear separation of instruments in the mix makes listening a sheer pleasure. The pieces evolve as they play them. “L’Hommage Á Vigneault,” for example, very quickly becomes a hornpipe, then morphs into several other dances, changing tack on the turn of the dime before switching back and turning again while the bass has room for a brief solo. It’s dance music, but in a jaw-dropping arrangement, and technically very demanding – but the fact that four pull it off with such assurance shows their quality.
Even when they slow the pace, as on the start of “Avant Le Départ,” there’s still a delicate stateliness to the music. “Festoyer Jusqu’à L’Aube” moves through countless moods in its eight-and-a-half minutes, not so much a journey as an epic voyage.
It’s an immensely satisfying experience, one that often takes the listener by surprise in its sudden turns. All that experience the musicians possess pays off very handsomely. Let’s hope there’s more to come.