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Perlman Plays Klezmer
CD 1
Mayn elterns fargenign ("Sam Musiker") [0:50]
Rufn di kinder aheym (Calling the children home) [1:35]
Doyna and hora [2:30]
Basarabye (Bessarablia) [4:17]
Zol Zayn Gelebt [0:30]
Ikh bin a boarder bay mayn vayb (I am a boarder with my wife) [1:54]
Wedding Dance [2:50]
Dovidl bazetst di Kale [1:15]
Firn di mekhutonim aheym [1:49]
Abi Gezunt (2006 Digital Remaster) [0:55]
Ahavas Oylom [1:22]
Reyzele [3:17]
Hebrew Melody Op. 33 [4:54]
Doc's Wedding [0:33]
Simkes-Toyre [0:50]
Skrip, Klezmeri, Skripe (Play, Musicians, Play!) [2:46]
Der Heyser Bulgar ("The Hot Bulgar") [1:00]
Fisherlid/ Klezmatics Khosidl [6:28]
Ale Brider ("We Are All Brothers") [3:60]
CD 2
Reb Itzik's Nign [6:00]
Simkhes Toyre Time [3:22]
Flatbush Waltz [6:11]
Wedding Medley [5:70]
Dybbuk Shers [4:45]
Basarabye (Bessarabia") [6:55]
Firn Di Mekhutonim [5:33]
Tati Un mama Tants ("Mom and Dad's Dance") [5:48]
Fisherlid/ Klezmatics Khosidl [6:24]
Der Alter Bulgar ("The Old-Time Bulgar & Prelude") [5:50]
Ale Brider ("We Are All Brothers") [3:43]
Honga [2:47]
Doyna & Skotshma [3:31]
Der Heyser Bulgar ("The Hot Bulgar") [3:50]
Di Gayster ("The Spirits") [1:36]
DVD [55:00]
Bukovina 212 [4:29]
Lekho Neraneno [5:00]
Doina Naftule [2:43]
A Hora mit Branfn [3:23]
Healthy Baby Girl Hora [2:16]
Golem Tants [1:49]
Honga Encore [1:34]
Nign [5:31]
Bulgars/The Kiss [5:70]
Meron Nign/In the Sukke [6:10]
Sholom Aleykhem [4:32]
Khaiterma [2:54]
Andy's Ride [2:54]
A Heymisher Bulgar/Wedding Dance [3:13]
Kale Bazetsn (Seating the Bride/Kusidl) (Khasidic Dance) [4:30]
Fun Tashlikh [2:58]
A Yingele fun Poyln (A young man from Poland)/Di Mame is Gesangen in Mark Arayn (Mother went to market) [5:10]
Processional/ Klezmer Suite/Ale Brider [12:23]
Itzhak Perlman (violin)
Brave Old World; Kapelye; The Klezmatics; The Klezmer Conservatory Band; The Andy Statman Klezmer Orchestra
From the albums ‘In the Fiddler’s House’ and ‘Live in the Fiddler’s House’; bonus DVD ‘In the Fiddler’s House’ produced and written by James Arntz and Sara Lutkinson and featuring Red Buttons and Fyvush Finkel and Leopold Kozlowski
rec. 1995-96
EMI CLASSICS 2070942 [72:16 + 76:29; 55:00]


Experience Classicsonline

Three in one; I make that a Trinity – though possibly not, theologically speaking, in the case of Perlman’s exploration of Klezmer. This dates from the period 1995-96 and is marked by this fold out, sturdy three disc set (two CDs, one DVD) with its Chagall-inspired cover artwork by Reuven Rubin, painted in 1968 and called Hassidic Dance.

Let’s start with the DVD first. Klezmer, the Instrument of Song, is celebrated internationally now. But back in the mid-nineties when things were beginning to hot up Perlman visited Cracow where he met the band Brave Old World, on tour, and learned the idiom. He ‘felt at home’ quickly. Interspersed with the Polish itinerary we have shots from an obviously convivial New York meal Perlman had with the wisest of the Borscht Belt wiseacres, Red Buttons, who alas died in 2006 and Fyvush Finkel. Finkel is a particular delight. When the time comes he should be stuffed, mounted and his glass cabinet dragged around New York as a memento of all that was best in Yiddish Theatre in that city. 

Perlman is shown practising, quipping with fellow Klezmer players – a stellar lot as one can note. We meet his father, in Cracow and both father and son meet one of the great players, Leopold Kozlowski – who speaks Yiddish with Perlman senior. Perlman junior sticks elsewhere to English and German. We have some shots from Perlman’s daughter’s wedding and of course a great deal of that fabled family warmth. The gradual process of absorption of an idiom felt but not truly experienced is rather fascinating to observe. Especially top drawer is the ‘startled chicken’ look Perlman gives when the Klezmatics break out into a really funky groove. ‘What’s happening?’ mouths the delightedly bemused virtuoso as the electric fiddles saw away. When he brandishes one he does so with a concerned dynamism.

The CDs put into practice what the video part of the set has shown us. In the Fiddler’s House was recorded at the Hit Factory in New York whilst the second CD, Live in the Fiddler’s House was recorded at Radio City Music Hall about a year later. There is plenty of variety both in the bands and therefore instrumentation and in their approach – whether more traditional, or more challenging. Perlman negotiates the boundaries nimbly. I took to the loping waltz of Flatbush Waltz by The Andy Statman Klezmer Orchestra in a big way but there are pleasurable moments throughout, not least in the vital clarinet-led pyrotechnics of The Klezmatics, the command of tempo of Brave Old World or the virtuosity of The Klezmer Conservatory Band. But really all the bands contain all these elements in profusion. Whether as orator, Cantor or obbligatist Perlman lends his classical, Klezmer infiltrated genius to all tempos and moods. Klezmer and Fado, two very different musics, share an ability to summon up place, and evoke a rich emotional response. They both have their long lineage and their controversies. You’ll need Lisbon for Fado. But you can evoke something of the excitement of Klezmer, mid-1990s style, in this set, in which Perlman’s Prodigal returns to his roots.

Jonathan Woolf

see also Review by Dominy Clements



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