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I’m still celebrating one of those “beyond expectations” experiences, when excellence surprises us!

We’d seen a poster for a Hackbretter Concert. The hackbrett is an instrument I’ve come to like here, and I was looking for some live music to enliven my spirit – so we recruited brother Hans and his partner Inge, and headed for Walsenhausen in Canton Appenzell.  Walserhausen perches on a hill-balcony over Bodensee (Lake Constance).

Looking out from Walsenhausen over Bodensee

We went not knowing who was performing, or what they might serve up.  So, if I had any expectations, they were of typical Appenzeller Hackbrett playing… lively, energetic, tuneful folks-music.

Well! It was Anderscht  – a trio of two Hackbretter and a double bass and absolutely “other” (anders) than any Hackbretter players around.

Hands blur with speed

Though they’re based in Walsenhausen, they’re like us, as our friends call us weltbummlers (= world wanderers -don’t you love that word?).    Likewise, their music wanders. In last night’s concert we had their interpretations of Ukraine, Greece and wider. We had their arrangement of Smetana’s Moldau, Take Five, Summertime, and an Irish medley.  Even a seriously rocking Smoke on the Water!

They made two Hackbretter and one double base sound like a chamber orchestra – a jazz trio – a full percussion section.   The house-full audience was on its feet to appreciate them.

You’ve not met a Hackbrett yet?  Its English name is the Hammered Dulcimer (the dulcimer beloved by poets). Take off the lid of a grand piano, shrink the soundboard to under quarter size, and play the strings directly with small hand-held hammers, and you’ve got the idea.

Better still, watch  Andrea Kind (composer/arranger and member of the Trio) on  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ME1wbxg0Pg

or the whole trio on

http://www.anderscht.ch where you can also sample their CDs.

Driving home, playing the concert-bought CD, we had more joy.

We dropped Hans and Inge off at Mani’s old family home, and were driving back down the lane which runs over the old Roman Road behind Thal.

We stopped for me to take a photo of the Burgstock – a Roman fortification which is now spot-lit in the night  – and… fireworks!

Somewhere up the hill a little, someone was celebrating their own special evening.   I promptly appropriated their fireworks into our own still-simmering excitement.

A burst of someone else’s fireworks seemed an appropriate salute to the concert

And one more nice serendipity.  A couple of years ago, we’d been at the formal dinner for the Swiss Abroad Society. It was in the StadtKeller – the underground cellars under the Kloster (cathedral complex) in St Gallen – and the entertainment had been provided  by a Hackbrett Trio.  What I’d mainly heard of them was in that noisy after-dinner environment, but I had been impressed enough to elbow through the crowd to listen close up, and snap a photo.   Now finding that photo again …yes!

Earlier heard – at the 2010 Auslander Schweiz conference dinner

Twice hearing – I think I qualify as a fan.

Burgstock earlier in the day

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