The Hurdy-Gurdy has an undeserved reputation as a “medieval” instrument. In truth, it has been developing since then, with many innovations added to it along the way. In the hands of Matthias Loibner, recognized as one of the great players of the instrument, it moans, growls and coos within a startling dynamic range. Beyond the modifications he has personally developed with Wolfgang Weichselbaumer, who crafts the instruments, he also uses pedals and computer technology to expand the palette of the instrument even further.
Mr. Loibner was in town for two back-to-back gigs, one at Joe’s Pub and the other at the Austrian Cultural Forum. I had the opportunity to see both performances, and I snagged him for an interview and explanation of his instrument.
Even if you already know a lot about the Hurdy Gurdy, I recommend watching this all the way through to catch the last bit of performance in which Loibner plays a passage worthy of Bill Frisell.
Also, the venerable Rootsworld website has published an article and overview of Loibner’s oeuvre.
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