Mytha

Hans Kennel - Mytha

1995

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All Music Guide Review

Hans Kennel is the founder and chief arranger of Mytha: Contemporary Alphorn Orchestra. The alphorn is a folk music instrument that is native to Switzerland. Switzerland is a mountainous region that is divided by four major languages. More than any country in Western Europe, it needed, throughout antiquity, to be served by a wide-ranging type of folk music. The alphorn is very long, somewhat shaped like a saxophone, but is the archetypal ancestor to the trumpet. Given that it has no valves, it is confined to playing natural overtones (harmonics). It has relatives in many "primitive" cultures such as the Tibetan thighbone trumpet and the didgeridoo from Australia. Kennel's "orchestra" is actually a quartet playing the alphorn and its cousin the b├╝chel. The orchestra was influenced by free music and jazz, and decided to present the instruments in contemporary settings without the use of other instruments. The sounds made by the alphorn are deep and fat; they easily could call across the mountains. The ensemble runs through a program of exercises, scales, and compositions on this recording that are all interesting, yet hardly engaging for any period of time. There is no doubt that these men are talented, and that they have a grasp of the archetypal musical language of their land and wish to share it. But desire and musicianship alone don't make for good recordings; imagination is required for that. This disc offers little, despite the fact that the set is pleasant enough to listen to as background music. In all, while it's admirable that Hat allowed this recording to be made, it is for fans of traditional ethnomusicology and Swiss culture only. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi

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