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The Sound of Austria: A Treasury of Alpine Folk Music
Austrian Traditional, Manfred Schuler Zither and Folk Music Ensemble
The Sound of Austria: A Treasury of Alpine Folk Music
Genres: Dance & Electronic, World Music, Special Interest, Pop, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (27) - Disc #1


      
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Manfred Schuler Delivers the Real Thing
Tom Leoni | Alexandria, Virginia United States | 03/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This CD absolutely belongs on the shelves of demanding Alpine Volksmusik lovers as well as listeners who are in the market for skillfully-played acoustic music that is a bit different in sounds and textures.

Manfred Schuler has been for decades a devoted carrier of the Austrian Volksmusik tradition, and his group plays this style with the passion of those who really love it and understand it and the exactness of a seasoned Classical string quartet. The group offers the listeners a palette consisting of a great variety of instruments, all skillfully played. These include:

The Zither--A table-top instrument consisting of five fretted strings struck with a thumb-ring and a varying number of fretless strings played with the ring, middle and index fingers. Its distinctive sound will be familiar to those who remember Carol Reed's immortal Film Noir "The Third Man."

The Raffele--A diminutive Zither generally consisting of three fretted strings played with a plectrum, not unlike a Mountain Dulcimer.

The Hackbrett--A stringed percussion instrument similar to the Hammered Dulcimer.

The Harp--The full-size pedal harp, which has always been an instrument dear to the Alpine regions of Austria.

The Alpine Xylophone--A bold-sounding, lively instrument that will merrily jolt a listener out of his seat.

An informative illustrated booklet (yes, in English) tells more about each, as well as about other criteria by which this recording was made. The pieces chosen for The Sounds of Austria are strictly traditional, and include different kinds of dances such as the Landler, the Boarischer, the Menuett, as well as more lyrical pieces.

Besides how well everything is played, one of the many things that makes this CD stand out is the impeccable arrangement of the music. There is *absolutely* no concession to the "kitsch" or the cheesy that unfortunately plagues a good number of "Alpine" recordings--in other words, the music is taken with the respect and the seriousness of someone who is discovering it and lovingly playing it for the first time, in spite of many of these tracks being well-known traditional pieces.

Or put yet another way, this is not Alpine music for Epcot-Center tourists--this is the real thing. Two big, enthusiastic thumbs up to Herr Schuler and his fantastic group, as well as to the quality of the recordings on this CD.
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