The Auvo Quartet
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The Auvo Quartet

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"fRoots - Andrew Cronshaw"

The links between the folk music degree course at Newcastle University and the much longer established folk music department at The Sibelius Academy (Finland’s music university in Helsinki) include regular student exchanges and these are resulting in productive friendships between musicians and the formation of bands.
The Auvo Quartet is Brit melodeonist Julian Sutton and flautist Tom Oakes, with Finnish singer/fiddler Suvi Oskala and fretted instrument player Roope Aarnio. It’s a band with a distinctive, fresh sound. Unforcedly excellent playing, finely judged vocals and elegant, free – thinking arrangements with some twists, such as the spacey whistling sound (perhaps E-bow achieved) in the opening track, a winding 12/8 by Sutton; or the sudden lurch into rhythm-section of the closer, The Finnish traditional song (and I’d have thought, a strong contender for album title) The Man Made Out Of Honey. This is an album that in blending traditions emerges as something that previously didn’t exist in either country and deserves to be lauded in both.
All the members contribute compositions, and the rest is traditional. Listening without reading the notes, the overall feel is Finnish, partly because of Oskala’s Finnish fiddling (with Shetland sounding touches in her wedding-waltz composition Auvo) And her Finnish-language vocals, and also because it rarely touches a jig or a reel, and even then in a way far from Celto-sound; there are songs, polskas, tangos, a schottische, a waltz and polkas. One of the latter written by Oakes on the occasion of Newcastle colleague guitarist Ian Stephenson’s study move to Helsinki. An excellent band. - Unknown


"Living Tradition - Debbie Kortisas"

The Auvo Quartet comprises four highly accomplished musicians; Newcastle-based Julian Sutton and Tom Oakes, and Helsinki’s Roope Aarnio and Suvi Oskala. This is their first CD, and it is outstandingly musical. As you’d expect from a collaboration between English and Finnish performers, there’s a fine blending of musical traditions. Both Sutton and Oakes seem to bring their earlier influences with them – from Ireland, France and England; also from their previous work, and all of this shows in the sheer expressiveness of their melodeon and flute/bansuri playing. I know little about Oskala (fiddle/viola/voice) or Aarnio (guitar/other stringed instruments & concertina) other than from the evidence of this excellent album, but I can only imagine that their musical backgrounds are very diverse, for they seem to bring with them a very modern approach to this music – there are jazz and classical influences, but also very contemporary touches, especially in Sufi Oskala’s highly original Finnish language songs. Her voice is stylish, quirky and mischievous by turns, as with the very lively singing tune The Road To Helsinki, or the album’s closing track Mesimies (The Man Made Out Of Honey). My mind gets filled with images of swarming bees during the song’s slightly crazy/discordant middle passage – and what a contemporary finish the song has! The band members’ original instrumental compositions are of exceptional quality: Aarnio’s Tenava with its playful drive; Sutton’s gorgeous Iwona’s Schottische; Oakes’ supremely tuneful Joe’s/The Topiarist; or Oskala’s Auvo (Bliss), a sublime wedding waltz played on fiddle. Think contemporary traditional Scandinavian bands like Varrtina or Swåp, add in a touch of the English & Irish folk traditions, and you’ll have some idea of what to expect from The Auvo Quartet. Strongly recommended as a superb example of the very high standards being achieved by the contemporary folk musicians of England and Scandinavia. - Unknown


"Songlines - Fiona Talkington"

The many, fast growing musical relationships between Newcastle and Helsinki continue to bear fine fruit in this partnership of two Finns – Suvi Oskala (fiddles and voice) and Roope Aarnio (guitar, mandolin, concertina, vocals) – with the Newcastle based Julion Sutton (melodeons) and Tom Oakes (flutes).
The Auvo Quartet have produced and album where Finnish traditional tunes, new compositions, arrangements handed on by friends, and even a touch of Finnish tango sit happily side by side. With quite an array of instruments at their disposal, they’ve come up with a variety of textures.
The wistfulness and elegance of Sutton’s melodeon is a joy to listen to on ‘Janino’ a medley of tunes full of catchy and quirky rhythms. The tango which follows, ‘Kaipaamattomuudesta’ is a real surprise, engagingly sung by Suvi Oskala. The full ensemble work well together in the energetic ‘Tenava’, Roope Aarnio’s own polska, which takes on a new direction once the band start jamming, while the haunting ‘Joe’s/The Topiarist’ is the one that you find yourself humming hours later, a beautiful tribute to fiddler Joe Scurfield who died a couple of years ago. Overall, this is a great showcase for a fine young quartet. - Unknown


"Karen Tweed (Quote)"

The Auvo Quartet is exactly what I dreamed of being in during my youth, but did not then exist. To bring together the majesty of Julian Sutton with the elegance and dexterity of Roope Aarnio is heavenly. Stir in the mixed – spice of Tom Oakes (whose musicality has matured so beautifully) and the sublime, lime – frosted icing of Suvi Oskala and it makes for a right slap-up Missus Miggins by Jove! A feast for the ears. Book ‘em! - NA


"Kathryn Tickell (Quote)"

Music played with respect and commitment, celebrating the convergence of two different cultures - NA


Discography

Auvo Quartet - Auvo Kvartetti (Own Label, 2006)

Radio play on BBC Radio 2 and 3, BBC Scotland, BBC Regional (various), Radio Libataire (France), RTE (Ireland) Finnish and Swedish stations.

Trad Magazine in France (Reccomende Award)
Living Tradition - Feature on the 'Nu-Nordic' scene

BBC Radio 2's Folk Chart Top 10 (8th)
Cube Roots Chart in fRoots (4th)

Various Reviews (See Press)

Photos

Bio

The Auvo Quartet are four musicians who are grounded in the traditional music of our various backgrounds (Ireland, Northumbria, Finland, Sweden and France). Our interests cross-over massively and are combined with the contemporary influences that are abundant in the cities we live in (such as rock, jazz, world, electronica etc). We collect and disseminate our influences into new compositions and/or unique arrangements of traditional material. We are aiming to work in the near future on a ‘big band’ project with other kindred spirits, Bjorn Dahlberg a sax, bass clarinet and keyboard player from Stockholm and the percussionist and double-bassist Sara Puljula (Helsinki). The aim . . To create contemporary musical portraits, outside of the barriers of genre but with strong roots, firmly planted in the traditional music that we know and love.