The first fifty seconds of this album are a very clever intro, boots trudging through the French rain, faint noises, a door opens, and we are launched into a live concert by this fiddle and accordion pair. Then it's full-on dance music for fifty-five minutes, complete with dancers and lively audience, as Duo Artense weave bourrées, polkas, waltzes, mazurkas and more. From the border between the rich Auvergne and Limousin traditions, this is central French music with a few touches of wider European influence. Fiddler Basile Brémaud and box-player Hervé Capel have a wonderfully rhythmic style, full of life and energy, which keeps the dancers whirling while the musicians' fingers fly through some complex melodies. Bourrée de Lachaud and Bourrée d'Alfred Mouret are good examples, two separate dances united in a single track here, with the briefest of pauses in between, both great tunes. This combination of different dances on a single track is new to me, and occurs several times on Sur le Vif.
There are a couple of guest appearances, Stefano Valla playing the Italian piffero on a magnificent mazurka and polka medley, and the gentler flute of Pierre Touret on a set of bourrées. Otherwise it's just fiddle and box, filling the hall with toe-tapping sound. Capel and Brémaud play in a very sensitive and controlled way for relative youngsters, they clearly have a deep feeling for the dance as well as a complete mastery of their instruments. The fiddle is unusually adaptable, playing low almost continuo parts as well as higher virtuosic melody lines. You'd expect an accordionist to provide his own accompaniment, but Capel's left hand is outstanding, producing bass runs and rhythmic variations in addition to the normal vamping chords.
© Alex Monaghan
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|Title||Sur le vif|
|Packaging||digifile 3 volets|
Basile Brémaud (violin)
Hervé Capel (chromatic accordion)
Stefano Valla (piffero)
Pierre Touret (fife).
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