The Sea Stallions
Hälsingland to Howth,No label ****
There’s a first time for everything, and The Sea Stallions marks the debut pairing of uilleann pipes and nykelharpa, that most elegant and haughty Swedish instrument. Piper Leo Rickard has already pushed the boundaries of the tradition this year with his fine Up, Down and Aroundalbum, where he melded pipes and cello. Now he’s cast his gaze northwards, and through a heady combination of inventive tune selections and exceptionally genteel pacing, this newly minted trio have injected a shot of pure adrenaline into the tradition. Peter Hedlund’s own slow march composition, Kornbodsmarshen/ The Granary March, affords both nykelharpa and pipes ample space to navigate a beautiful melody line, exposing the intricate harmonic possibilities of the pairing. Elsewhere, O’Carolan tunes nestle alongside those from Sliabh Luachra and Donegal. A testament to the uniting effects of Rickard and Hedlund’s playing, with Doyle’s guitar offering suitably subtle accompaniment.