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Mytha - Horns 2 (1994)

Originally this then revolutionary alphorn quartet was called The Contemporary Alphorn Orchestra. Mytha proved to be an appealing name and this ensemble has not lost any of its original energy and it remains the relevant model group for the magnificent voices of these natural horns. Mytha established new and still unsurpassed standards in liberating the horns from their naturally limited tonal range and emancipating them to a fully valuable musical instruments and vehicles for formally unheard polyphonies. This is partly the result of using horns of different basic pitches and thus overlaying various untcmpcrcd sound layers.

Mytha's endeavour to master these instruments was accomplished in a contemporary musical consciousness. Mytha triggered a lasting development of many followers. Alphorn playing is no longer what it was before this group's first public appearances. (hanskennel)

The first edition of Mytha's Swiss Alphorn recordings was an experiment in offering the sound of this primitive, very organic trumpet to the world. The Alphorn has many cousins in the world in Tibet, Australia, China, and elsewhere. It is limited in its pitch and tonal ranges since it can only be played in the overtone series (harmonics). Mytha set out to use those limitations to their advantage by accenting the horn is ways it had not been used before. The disc opens with a piece by Hans-Jorg Sommer, the preeminent Alphorn player and composer. As the long drones begin to emerge from the silence and are joined by others in a different pitch, one instrument is picked to solo and create between the three tones smaller polytones that begin to ring and glimmer, vibrate in the sound mix. The rest of the first half of the disc is dedicated to pieces written by Hans Kennel for the explorations of these tonal possibilities where strange minors are augmented so tones are created by the lack of a particular place on the horn and the combination of overtones played in half or quarter tones. The rest of the recording is comprised of traditional pieces written for the Alphorn, played in the style of Mytha, which is to say, as true folk music without its more modern, caricaturesque deficiencies -- often the Alphorn is now demonstrated for tourists as a sonic postcard of "authentic" Swiss culture. Mytha's approach is a regal one, carrying forth the depth of expression and emotion and musical integrity into every arrangement. While the first Mytha volume was a mixed bag, this one is solid, a gorgeous rendering of the history, development, and innovative possibilities for an instrument from antiquity. As a result of taking this recording in with its deep, resounding sonorities, one can never hear the trumpet the same way again. (amg)

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