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MGB Records (Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund)

Alpentöne (Sounds of the Alps) – Highlights from the Festival 2003
Totschna: "Suworoff – Marsch": Lager

Lukas Heuss (clarinet, saxophone), Oleg Lips (accordion), Alexander Ionov (balalaika), Daniel Mouthon (voice)
Nikita Pfister mit Montferrine: La Mi-Été

Nikita Pfister (accordion, cimbalom, voice), Christian Abriel (flute, percussion, alphorn), Diego Abriel (percussion, vocals), Gerald Perera (double bass), Nicolas Perillat (bass trombone, alphorn, percussion), Michel Steiner (clarinet, flutes)
Michel Godard: "Die Schwarze Madonna (Einsiedeln – Codex 121)": Ecce virgo – Le feu et l’eau

Michel Godard (serpent, tuba), Linda Bsiri (vocals, Mariengeige), Cristina Zavalloni (vocals), Gabriele Mirabassi (clarinet), Hélène Breschand (harp), Pierre Favre (percussion), Calixtinus (Gregorian choir)
Roland von Flüe mit Ribi Orchester: "Alpine Jazz Suite": Chilbi

Roland von Flüe (saxophone, clarinets), Beat Escher (violin), Heinz della Torre (trumpet, alphorn), Martin Ledergerber (flute, accordion), Martin Baumgartner (electronics, percussion), Jean-Pierre Maillard (vibaphone, percussion), Tony Renold (percussion), Christoph Sprenger (double bass)
Mike and Kate Westbrook: "Turner in Uri": Jelly House

Mike Westbrook (composition, piano), Kate Westbrook (painting, texts, vocals), Claudio Danuser (baritone), Barbara Thompson (saxophone), Chris Biscoe (saxophone), Tim Harries (double bass), Jon Hiseman (percussion), Brass Band Uri, Schola uriensis
Shirley Anne Hofmann: "Euphoria": Euro Cha Cha Cha – Alpenroeseli

Shirley Anne Hofmann (brass instruments, accordion)
Patricia Draeger: "Röseligarten": Schönste Obestärn

Patricia Draeger (accordeon, flute, vocals), Sergej Simbirew (accordion and Schwyzerörgeli, Voice), Dani Häusler (clarinet, bass clarinet), Marc Draeger (vibraphone, marimbaphone, bodhran, voice), Christoph Mächler (double bass, voice), Marc Halbheer (percussion)
Peter Waters: "Songlines": Von Gonten nach Hundwilerhöhe I – Von Gonten nach Hundwilerhöhe II

"Quintetto Zero":
Peter Waters (piano), Barbara Balzan (vocals), Franco Ambrosetti (trumpet, flügelhorn), Daniel Pezzotti (violoncello), Lucas Niggli (percussion)
Strepitz: "Suns Naturai": Traditional

Giovanni Floreani (bagpipe, zither, vocals, computer), Lorenzo Marcolina (clarinet, gaita), Ermes M Ghirardini (percussion), Didier Ortolani (clarinet, bagpipe), Arianna Cormons (violoncello), Evaristo Casonato (oboe, English horn), Alessandro Turchet (double bass)
Recorded in Altdorf, Switzerland 15 – 17 August 2003


Some time ago I reviewed a similar disc from the same company. While that was a kind of sampler with excerpts culled from several existing discs, the present one was recorded on three consecutive days in connection with the Alpentöne-Festival in 2003. Whether some of this material will also eventually appear on separate discs I don’t know, but since much of the music consists of shorter pieces or movements from longer works it seems plausible, especially since several works here were comissioned for the festival. In common with the earlier disc this one has a wider mix of styles and the willingness to explore byways and new combinations. If anything this is cross-over music, but not in the sense that a classical musician lets his/her hair down and performs popular music. This is a much more serious approach - and with a lot more humour. It isn’t easy to describe to someone who hasn’t heard it, and someone who has heard it won’t need a description. It is even more difficult to assess it, so I will confine myself to some general remarks and try to give some impressions from my listening sessions.

The first track has part-singing a cappella but the music is interspersed with sundry "noises" and someone reciting something. It might be a live recording of an out-door event, I don’t know for sure. Other tracks have really intense dance music, sometimes played on instruments you woundn’t expect. Tracks 3 and 4 mix medieval church music, sung by an Italian scola, with modern instruments and jazz improvisations. Fascinating! The excerpt from the "Alpine Jazz Suite" is also a thrilling mixture of styles with Martin Ledergerber’s accordion as the dominating instrument. Well-known big-band leader and composer Mike Westbrook and his wife Kate have created a Gesamtkunstwerk, comprising text, painting and music, "Turner in Uri", based on the English painter William Turner who visited Switzerland several times. It is composed for the Uri Brass Band, a Festival Choir, some prominent English jazz musicians, Kate and a classical baritone singer. It would be interesting to hear the whole work. Contrast this with Canadian-born Shirley Anne Hofmann, who performs on her own a funny Euro Cha Cha Cha, playing a plethora of brass instruments and other sound producing utensils including her own vocals. As far I can understand she must use some playback technique. She also plays the accordion in the "Alpine Dream".

"The collection Röseligarten, which originated ca 1900, contains love songs, dance songs and battle songs", we learn from the very informative booklet. Accordionist Patricia Draeger has arranged the most beautiful melodies from this collection and "brushed these up" without losing the beauty of the original. Schönste Obestärn is indeed very beautiful. Australian pianist Peter Waters has based his Songlines on the Aborigines’ tradition of "dream paths" along which their forefathers wandered. The musical language is rather down-to-earth cool jazz, with delicious piano playing by Waters, fine vocal solos from Barbara Balzar and a muted trumpet in the background.

The last track offers a meeting between Friaul in Italy and the East. Obviously intended for dancing the music moves along at a rollicking tempo, ending in a real frenzy. This, if anything, is worldmusic!

There isn’t a dull track on this disc, that’s for sure, and anyone wanting wallpaper music need not bother. Having deep conversations with a string quartet by Haydn playing in the background is fully possible; this music needs to be listened to – or turned off. Some of it is great fun, some is beautiful, some of it can be irritating or frustrating, but everything oozes with enjoyment. After a period of heavy Wagnerian meals this was a nice dessert: sometimes sweet, sometimes stimulatingly fresh and occasionally too spicy. But give it a try with a glass of dry sherry.

Göran Forsling

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