Swiss Mountain Music

Various Artists

Capitol, 1957

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Every so often, music reviewers tend to fall down the rabbit hole in the manner of Alice In Wonderland—that is, we question where a specific snippet of music might have come from, and we end up in a place we never expected to be.

For me, a recent trip down that rabbit hole came when I wondered where the music from the “Cliff Hangers” game on The Price Is Right came from. Fortunately, the Internet can be one of your best friends (as well as one of the biggest time-sucks ever developed by man), and I discovered that the beloved yodeling and music was a piece known as “On The Franches Mountains” from a 1957 compilation album, Swiss Mountain Music. Long out of print, the album can still be heard on the Internet Archive website. (Save your outrage… this album is unavailable anywhere else and—to the best of my knowledge—never was released on CD or on any of the streaming services.)

Oh, what the hell… I’m already this deep into the search…

This album is, at its worst, a curiosity for those who might not be of Swiss heritage or are not accustomed to listening to world music. It is, to be quite honest, not an album that is for everyone. However, if you can approach this one with an open mind and open ears, you might be surprised at how much you actually enjoy it.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The biggest complaint I have is that the four tracks are each made up of several compositions. Had this disc been broken up into individual tracks, no matter how short they might have been, it would have been far easier to track which artist was playing which composition.

As it is, there are some absolute gems on this one. “Alpine Song” by Franzepp Inauen is one that will capture the listener’s attention. And there is something particularly charming about hearing “On The Franches Mountains” by Jura Orchestra in its entirety, and understanding where the snippet I grew up hearing on The Price Is Right fits into the whole picture.

There are some performances that left me scratching my head a bit. Wild And Forster’s “On The Lake Of Brienz” has the sound of a barrelhouse blues piano playing over local folk music, and the combination just seemed to clash with my ears. (At least, I think it was “On The Lake Of Brienz”… this is why I’d have much preferred the tracks to have been divided properly, so you were confident you knew what you were listening to.)

Then again, perhaps the whole point of how Swiss Mountain Music is grouped is so the listener experiences it as a whole, not as individual tracks to be picked through like the box of candies on Grandma’s table. As an album, this does turn out to be an interesting trip, if possibly outdated. (True story: I’ve only been to Switzerland once in my life, and I never left the Zurich airport. So, my personal knowledge of the music and culture is extremely limited.) I’m not certain if the musical picture this album captured circa 1957 would be similar to what one might find in 2024… but even if it isn’t, it still is a curious experience.

My discovery of Swiss Mountain Music was based off a fairly random search, but I can say I’m glad I not only discovered the source of the initial piece of music, but that I got to hear the album in its entirety. It might not be one that I’d put on regular rotation, but is one that could be the musical version of clearing the mental pipes, or just allowing oneself to be transported into a Heidi-esque setting, where the alphorns and yodels take you to a time and place far, far away. Whatever the case, it’s worth experiencing at least once.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2024 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol, and is used for informational purposes only.