Gudrun Walther / Andy Cutting: CONVERSATIONS – new duo release from two of the leading trad musicians in Germany and England.
Walther and Cutting take the listener on a journey between English and German traditional music and songs, new compositions and favourite tunes from all over Europe. Recorded over the course of four days in June 2023, the two musicians just sat down to play in one room - relying on spontaneity, interaction and open ears to make the music come alive.
The result is a very intimate, close-up listening experience, as close to a live performance as possible. While some of the tracks needed time to develop, others were literally done as a first and only take. Staying in the moment, striving for good musical communication and trying to capture some of the magic rather than taking technical flights of fancy was key to the making of this record.
In the traditional music scene across Europe, most of the musicians know each other from playing at the same festivals over the summer. Playing in informal sessions is very much part of the tradition and a great way of getting to know each other. Gudrun Walther and Andy Cutting met in the early 90s and played a memorable session in 1995, after which they started toying with the idea of working together - but the timing wasn’t ideal and it seemed impossible to accomplish.
Both pursued their musical careers successfully, staying in touch over the years and playing music together whenever the opportunity presented itself. After a spontaneous outing on stage as a duo for the second half of a solo gig of Andy Cutting in Germany in December 2018, they decided to go on a tour together.
The tour was booked for March 2020…
It took two full years and a lot of re-scheduling to finally hit the road in April 2022. During this tour, it became very clear that they wanted to keep working together – a mere 27 years after the idea first occurred!
Music is often described as a universal language. This is very true – from a listener’s perspective it speaks directly to our emotions. For the musician, it is also true – it is a language, spoken in many different dialects. Meeting someone who speaks the same dialect, who uses phrasing, dynamics, harmonies and rhythm in the same way, is a great gift. To be able to have a real conversation, there is more that’s needed though – listening is as important as saying something, and being able to react spontaneously to what is being said requires all the technical aspects of playing an instrument to be accessible, but not the main focus. Having such a conversation is the most satisfying and rewarding experience for anyone playing music. If the listener is drawn in and touched by that, we’ve come full circle.
Andy Cutting, a three-time BBC Folk Awards Musician of the year, is a compelling solo performer and works with Leveret, Blowzabella, Topette!, Anne Niepold, and Roger Daltrey. He’s a musician’s musician and one of the folk scene’s most wanted, playing with Kate Rusby, John McCusker, June Tabor and Martin Simpson to name but a few. There is also a growing demand for him to play outside this genre (having recorded with Sting, John Illsley (Dire Straits) and most recently being asked to join The Who for an acoustic concert in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust. His style of playing is unique and has audibly influenced more than one generation of box players, which also makes him a popular tutor for workshops and master classes worldwide. He has been teaching the National Youth Folk Ensemble on a regular basis since 2015, He’s also an esteemed composer and many of his tunes are considered contemporary classics on the folk scene.
Gudrun Walther is one of Germany’s most sought-after and well-respected trad musicians. With various projects, most of all her multi-national band, CARA, she’s touring within Europe, the US and Australia. Together with Juergen Treyz, duo partner and co-founder of German trad band, Deitsch, she’s counted amongst the figureheads of the German folk revival. She won numerous awards with her music and recordings (German Folk Award, German Record Critics Award, Irish Music Award (twice), Freiburger Leiter, Kaarster Stern), guested on many genre crossing albums, performed as a soloist with orchestras and worked as producer and co-producer in the recording studio. In 2016 she was asked to guest with worldrenowned Irish band, Téada, filling in for Sligo fiddle master Oisín MacDiarmada. In December 2020, star violinist Daniel Hope invited her along with Juergen Treyz to play a concert in his living room in Berlin, which was broadcast on ARTEconcert throughout Europe.
Photo Credits: (1)-(4) Gudrun Walther & Andy Cutting (unknown/website).