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 its 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 its 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 WÃ¼nsche, Markneukirchen, Germany, and recorded acoustically to preserve the true zither sound.
1. The Little Byways of Vienna
2. Vienna, City of My Dreams
3. Farewell, My Little Guards Officer
4. Three settings of Goethe's poem Wild Rose
5. I Know a Little Hotel
6. The Sparrow on the Roof
7. Old Vienna, Gone Forever
8. When Grampa Was Twenty
9. Cafe Mozart Waltz, from The Third Man
10. Medley of very old Viennese songs
11. Come Rendezvous With Me
12. Serenade from Don Giovanni
13. It's Spring Again in the Prater
14. Hungarian Folk Selections
15. The Old Refrain