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If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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MGB Records (Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund) http://www.musikszene-schweiz.ch http://www.musiques-suisses.ch/

Chriesibaum im Jahresring:
Eine Wanderung durch alpine Klangwelten mit Gedichten von Georg Thürer

Winter – Im wysse Manel [10:55]
Fasnacht [2:50]
Frühlingstanz – Eichebüehler Gaarte-Kaländer [4:30]
Alpklang [4:23]
Berggeister [3:31]
Sommerfest [5:47]
Abend – Summerabed (Jetzt stelt der Tag sis Chrääzli aab) [1:54]
Alpsegen [4:00]
Herbstlied – Das roaggig Lied (Ich ha-n-e Öpfel funde) [6:41]
Reihe – Gschwätz [3:57]
Winterbluescht [5:00]
Recorded at Radiostudio Zurich on 10-12 December, 2001 DDD
MGB CD 6192[53:35]

 

There are times when something truly strange and wonderful comes across my desk amongst the myriad CDs that I am asked to review. The present collection of settings of the poetic works of Georg Thürer certainly falls into that category. This work was originally conceived as a combination chamber music and radio play. It employs a diverse group of musicians and influences, with the commissioned goal to be an exploration of nature and music. From the opening movement, a musical depiction of the desolation of winter in Switzerland, to the last note, an eerie return to the opening theme, this music takes the listener all the way through the year with text and music that is at once intelligent, beautiful and spectacularly original.

The project begins with the work of Thürer, written in the Garner dialect, about the four seasons and the natural landscape in his native Alpine setting. The sections are then set with a remarkably diverse range of sounds, including human voice, prepared piano, alphorn and the electronically amplified contrabass flute. This is complemented by an amalgam of incredibly diverse musicians, with backgrounds in jazz, opera and popular music. The result is a synthesis of sensibilities that change fluidly from the representation of one season to the next.

Each season is given its own instrumentation and thematic material, which does a marvelous job of aurally painting pictures on the listener’s mental canvas. The interplay of the varied instruments and themes as the seasons wheel and change is remarkable. The vocals are innovative and evocative, and complement the other sounds. Even though I could not understand the words sung, and the booklet was lacking a translation, there was never any question as to where in the year we "were", or about the landscape depicted.

There are a plethora of virtuosic displays contained on this disc as well. The contrabass flute is explored both with its natural timbre and with some perfectly executed multiphonic techniques. The same is done with the Büchel (a smaller cousin to the Alphorn) to great effect. The instrumentalists all find themselves deftly switching from one instrument to another and each time the player makes it sound as if his current instrument is his native one. Generally the musicians work well together, and the result is remarkable.

While there are those who will certainly find the sounds alien and uninviting, this disc was to me a wonderful discovery. The deftness with which the music is able to so beautifully describe its subject matter is impressive. The aural vacation through a year in the Alps is certainly worth the price of the CD. The music is interesting and inviting. Any fan of modern musical composition will certainly love this album, and I recommend it very highly.

Patrick Gary

 



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