Jane Curtis Plays Zither Music from Vienna[CD]
~ Jane Curtis
If you already know and love Viennese music and the sound of the zither, or if you need an introduction to this wonderful kind of music, Jane Curtis's Zither Music from Vienna is for you. There are even three short video segments with close-up views of her hands showing how the instrument is played. Bring up the video by inserting the CD into a computer, clicking the CD drive to see the contents, and double-clicking a title. This is a great collection of Viennese music from Mozart to Karas, old styles and new, including classical, popular, and folk, all her own arrangements except for Karas's original Café Mozart Waltz from The Third Man. Jane Curtis has been involved with the zither for a long time, as performer, arranger, composer, teacher, and author. You may also have heard her background music on the Great Chefs television series. Her repertoire covers many forms and styles, many times and nationalities. As a former resident and frequent visitor in Austria and Germany, and with an Austrian grandmother, she is specially attuned to Viennese and other Austrian music. In describing her playing, reviewers and listeners on both sides of the Atlantic speak of it's beauty, liveliness, technical precision, and feeling for the music. The zither heard on this CD is the true European zither, very different from the autoharp, the koto, and various other stringed instruments sometimes referred to generically as zithers. This instrument originated over two hundred years ago in the German-speaking alpine regions of Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. It began as a rudimentary device with three strings over a diatonic fretboard and (at first) only one open string acting as a drone accompaniment. From this modest beginning it has evolved into the fine instrument of today. The zither consists of a flat sounding-box with five strings over a fretboard along one side and an additional 24 to 42 strings stretched over the sounding-box, played open. Playing the zither is thus playing two instruments at the same time, making it the most difficult of all instruments to learn. The tones from the fretboard strings are clear and bright, while the open strings produce softly resonant tones, more like those of the harp. The combination of these two types of tone gives the zither it's unique sound, and the direct touch of the fingers on the strings enhances the quality of tone. Once you can play the zither (it takes at least a few months to play even simple music), it lends itself to many types and styles of music. It is especially suited to modulation and can provide great tonal and harmonic variety through such techniques as harmonics, metallico (striking close to the bridge), and pizzicato (the only time a zither is plucked, as distinct from the firm pulling motion required to make the strings sound). The zither heard on Zither Music from Vienna was made at the master workshop of Horst Wünsche, Markneukirchen, Germany, and recorded acoustically to preserve the true zither sound.
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