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The Rheingans Sisters are unquestionably the real deal. A resident of Toulouse, Anna is an expert in the traditional music of her adopted homeland; a fact backed up by the first class diploma she recently acquired from the Conservatoire Occitan. Rowan, who has previously collaborated with Nancy Kerr, Gwyneth Glyn and was part of the Songs of Separation project, is a long-time member of firm FRUK favourites Lady Maisery, whose 2016 album Cycle was one of the highlights of that year. Bright Field is their third album as a duo, after Glad Gold Hearts (2013) and Already Home (2015), which led to them winning ‘Best Original Track’ (for Mackerel) at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. It is also their first collection of newly composed music and expands on their impressive blueprint.
The sisters hail from rural Derbyshire, where they were steeped in folk music, not least by that of their mother, herself a talented musician. They learned to play the violin on instruments handmade by their luthier father (Helmut Rheingans, who still provides their violins and banjos to this day), and this has led to a closeness of the relationship between instrument and player that lends Bright Field an extra layer of personal history and familiarity. This is immediately evident on Anna’s instrumental Glattugla, which opens the album. Its stop-start melody, at once frolicsome and ever so slightly eerie, careworn and curious, is a perfect reflection of the icy, treacherous but no doubt beautiful streets of Trondheim which were the inspiration for the piece. Both sisters have studied Scandinavian fiddle music, and this openness to the various musical cultures of Europe permeates every note of Glattugla, and indeed much of the album.