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

Sounds from the Mountains
Trad Schottisch – Bridge; Mazurka
Paul Giger and Arnold Alder (violins), Fabian Müller (cello), Töbi Tobler (dulcimer), Francisco Obieta (double bass)
Heinz MARTI Muotathaler Nachtmusik, Ländler
Markus Flückiger (Schwyzerörgeli, accordion), Zürcher Kammerorchester/Howard Griffith
Roland von FLÜE Chilbi from Alpine Jazz Suite
Ribi Orchestra
Patricia DRAEGER Schönste Obestärn from Röseligarten
Patricia Draeger (accordion, flute, voice), Sergej Simbirev (accordion), Dani Häusler (clarinets), Mark Draeger (marimbaphone, voice), Christoph Mächler (double bass, voice), Marc Halbheer (percussion)
Trad Galopp; Mazurka; Schottisch; HujGroup
Erika STUCKY d’Meigja
Erika Stucky (voice), Marco Raoult (voice), Luli Burgauer (voice, piano), Christoph Gantert (trombone), Martin Schumacher (accordion)
Nikita Pfister (accordion, dulcimer, voice), Christian Abriel (flute, percussion), Diego Abriel (percussion, voice), Gerald Perera (double bass), Nicolas Perillat (bass trombone, percussion), Michel Steiner (clarinet, flute)
Martin ROOS Adieu O(h) W(eh) for four alphorns
Anita Kuster, Martin Roos, Ruedi Linder, Balthasar Streiff (alphorns)
Anon Herbstlied (Song of Autumn) Ich ha-n-e Öpfel funde
Betty Legler (voice), Christoph Baumann (piano, prepared piano), Hans kennel (trumpet, büchel), Matthias Ziegler (double bass, flute)
Domenic JANETT A la veglia
Heinz HOLLIGER Ländler from Alb-Chehr
Oberwalliser Spillit
Daniel OTT Bettina
Bettina Buchmann (accordion), Töbi Tobler (dulcimer), Ruedi Häusermann (clarinet), Peter Kowald (double bass)
La LUPA Amore (Love)
La Lupa (voice), Fabian Müller (cello), Harry-Kinross White (sax)
Mathias RÜEGG Die 7 Unarten der Schweizer, kein Thema
Swiss Art Orchestra 91/Mathias Rüegg
No recording dates and venues given.


This disc, which draws on material from about ten different CDs, is a co-production of Presence Switzerland, Embassy of Switzerland in Japan, Musiques Suisses and Arts Council of Switzerland Pro Helvetia. My first thought was that it was another compilation of folksy and popular songs, suitable as a souvenir disc. How wrong I was! The very first track, a traditional Schottisch, the most popular Swiss dance, performed by two violins, cello, double bass and a dulcimer, which is a zither-like string instrument played with small hammers, sounded like traditional dance music should sound, whether Swiss or Scandinavian or Russian. However towards the end something unexpected happened, the music dissolved into harmonies that just floated around in a modern landscape, making my wife look at me and say "What is this?" We could hear birds twittering and then an ostinato brought dramatic life into the music before it just lead over to an elegant mazurka, a little hesitantly played. But from then on we were very far from tourist music, not a single yodeller in sight!

Some of the remaining titles are very traditional dances but there is in almost all of them some unexpected instrument or other effect. The little Nachtmusik ländler for accordion and chamber orchestra is nice but soon fades out and then comes a snippet from a jazz-suite, based on folksy dances dressed in North and South American clothes. Most of the pieces, a couple of them exceeding six minutes, are fascinating in one respect or other. Much is experimental but a common feature is the synthesis of traditional melodic material and modern harmonies and instruments.

The HujGroup have real drive in the playing of their three dances (tracks 6 – 8) but they also spice them with unexpected ingredients, a percussion solo in the Galopp and a very prominent Jew’s Harp in the Mazurka. Erika Stucky’s d’Meigja is possibly the oddest pieces of them all: against a hypnotic background of old evening prayers the singer imitates sea birds, laughs, even yodels a bit (a parody of course) while a silver coin spins in a milk bowl! It is also fascinating to hear the four ten-meter-long alphorns resounding. The famous oboist Heinz Holliger has composed a nice little ländler, where he uses even spoons and glasses to create some surprising sounds. Daniel Ott’s Bettina starts very traditionally but after some time transforms into a rhythmic frenzy that verges on chaos, while the singer La Lupa’s Amore has a feeling of the Orient.

Sound quality is generally good and there is a long and very informative article about the music, printed in four languages: Japanese, English, German and French. This is the kind of record that I would probably never think of buying if I stumbled over it in my local record store, but listening to it I realized that Switzerland, musically speaking, is much more than yodelling and the cuckoo clock. I don’t think I am going to play this disc on a daily basis but I’m sure that, unlike some other discs in my collection, this one will not be collecting dust. Why not give it a try?

Göran Forsling

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