Review Lichtsteig

Neutogegenburg 9th February 2010

LICHTENSTEIG – An experiment of a special kind was experienced by the audience at the Chössi Theatre on Saturday. The Alderbuebe played traditional music and Bettina Castaño danced flamenco to it. A performance including tradition and improvisation. By MICHAEL HUG

Big happenings loomed on the horizon. The news that something particularly worth seeing and hearing came to the Chössi Theatre spread quickly, and the seats sold out equally as quickly. 'Sold out' was the unfortunate message for many, days before the performance. The reason is surely that the name Alderbuebe speaks for itself, and the combination of Appenzell string music and spanish flamenco created great curiosity and anticipation.

In addition, came the afore mentioned big happenings. The public of East Switzerland who had already seen the show at another venue quite taken with what they had experienced. The five had just returned from Dubai – even the culture club there was sold out – and within ten days they we playing and dancing in the Zürich club 'Moods'.

Began as usual

The concert in Chössi began as was usual for the Alderbuebe – Walter Alder on the dulcimer, the youngest member of the group and violinist, Michael Bösch, the double bassist Köbi Schiess and the multi talented Willi Valotti from Toggenburg on accordeon opened with the Zäuerli 'Sonneufgang of de Osteregg'. The real star of the evening, Bettina Castaño appeared during the third song.

In a proverbial display of tradition and improvisation, she was the optical and accoustic counterpoint to the four distinguished and silent gentlemen in red stomachers. For them it must have seemed as if she had to show them what to do....but they recovered quickly and complemented the everlasting game between man and woman, with a sequence of harmonious tones.

Surprisingly compliments

Whether walzer or mazurka, polka or zäuerli – flamenco dance compliments the Appenzell string music surprisingly well. Really, this is no surprise, as the combination Alderbuebe - Castaño only performed something that has existed in Ethnology for a long time. Formerly, the gypsys moved across the middle east, through Hungary and to Europe, and the Appenzell string music was also an outcome of this.

However, the gypsy tribes of India also found their way to west Europe - Spain, through North Afrika and the flamenco culture came into being. When Bettina Castaño dances to the Alderbuebe's Scottish rythm, it brings together what history had already designed. The five artists didn't perform this at all clinically or dryly, but with a great amount of fun and rogueishness.

There was no search for experimental and mostly incomprehensible multicultural language. Both stuck with what they were able to do best, making music and dancing.

The well-known folk songs from the Alderbuebe's repertoire sounded genuine, just as Castaño's flamenco dance didn't lose anything of it's authenticity. Her style of interpretation is by no means on silken paws, and if the four gentlemen had not have performed as often as they have with Castaño, they would have been startled, waiting to see if the fire inside her would blaze out of the soles of her shoes. The Alder Buebe were made aware of the common cultural roots by Bettina Castaño, said Willi Valotti.

The Toggenburg Valotti commented further; 'You are somewhat surprised to see which echo of the logical connection is released during the performance' Or maybe the surprise is due to Michael Bösch's brand new authentic Appenzell trousers? According to Willi Valotti, they were bought at Wattwiler Modehandler, who have the men's fashion motto 'urban and meaty'.

 

TT: How did you end up working together with Bettina Castaño?

Valotti: The idea came from one of the Benissimo audience. The lady suggested mixing Swiss folk music with Flamenco. Bettina Castaño had already asked us, and so a TV performance of one song came about. That was about 15 years ago.

TT: What is the attraction of working together with a flamenco dancer?

Valotti: Apart from the fact that you can watch her wonderful movements, it brings dynamic into our music. When she becomes more energetic, it influences the way we play...then we play less well-behaved.

TT: Does it involve a lot of effort to coordinate yourselves with the flamenco?

Valotti: Not at all, as we play everything from our repertoire, apart from two pieces. It is more Bettina who adapts herself to us. She studied our repertoir, and worked out the most suitable dance.

"Sensing the music frees the dancing muse."

Bettina Castaño