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Shtetl à New York
Bessarabye (Traditional Yiddish)
Bei Mir Bist Du Scheyn (Sholom Secunda)
Ukrainian Memory (Traditional Yiddish)
My Funny Valentine (Richard Rodgers)
Medley Harold Arlen / George Gershwin - Stormy Weather
/ The Man I Love
Amol iz geveyn a mayse (Traditional Yiddish)
Tanz (Traditional hassidique)
Sunrise Sunset (Jerry Bock)
Alexander Ragtime band (Irving Berlin)
Over The Rainbow (Harold Arlen)
Broyges et Shulem tants (Traditional Yiddish)
Fiddle (Traditional Yiddish)
Rhapsody In Blue (George Gershwin)
I Got Rhythm (George Gershwin)
A yiddishe mame (Lew Pollack)
Rozhinkes mit Mandlen (Abrahm Goldfaden)
rec. Studio Suquenza, Montreuil, May 2008
wasn’t sure when I began this whether I’d take to it. I
had visions of Euro-American Klezmer, the one cancelling
out the other. I also feared over fussy arrangements, fractured
and accented ‘American’ vocals and a dilution, via discreet
instrumentation, of all that is vital in the music of the ‘shtetl’.
I also thought the ‘glued to the score’ studio photograph
of the band was not a good augury – too many notes, not
enough soul. Damn wrong, on all counts. I’m a convert.
album’s hook is to trace Hassidic music from its small
village origins to the Broadway stage of musical comedy – to
the great purveyors of popular song, Irving Berlin, Gershwin,
Harold Arlen (born Hyman Arluck), Richard Rogers (or Rogazinsky)
et al. Traditional Yiddish music sits side by side with
stage and popular songs in this hour long recital.
octet consists of two violins, a viola, two cellos, double
bass, clarinet, piano and cimbalon. Isabelle Georges is
the eloquent and expressive singer. That said these are
not to be compared necessarily with earthier klezmer bands,
such as Brave Old World, Kapelye, The Klezmatics, The Klezmer
Conservatory Band or The Andy Statman Klezmer Orchestra.
Though Philippe Berrod is a fine player he’s not the kind
of strutting, personality-filled genius that Statman is.
If you expect a different kind of take on the music, however,
you will not be disappointed.
arabesques over the piano vamp of Bessarabye get
things off to a good start. Isabelle Georges sings the
full verse of Bei Mir Bist Du Scheyn in Yiddish – not
just the chorus – then turns it into a tango; a slap bass
then launches the English language version, alongside some
audible ‘hoofing’ before a Hassidic style takes over. It’s
a rather winning example of the nature of transmogrification
and mutation that the disc seeks to evoke.
sings in time honoured Gallic fashion in a Gitanes-inflected
accent. On My Funny Valentine she does so, over
just a bass underpinning; very much New York not Klezmer;
more Edward Hopper’s ‘Nighthawks’ than Marc Chagall’s ‘I
and the Village’.
Arlen medley segues adeptly and is followed by a succession
of dance numbers, one instantly recognisable from Fiddler
on the Roof (Sunrise, Sunset). Melodic duties
are shared between fiddle, clarinet and vocals. Broyges
et Shulem tants sports a piano solo that ranges widely
and fuses jazz with popular elements, moves to Broadway
and sanctions thereby a few naughty quotations from the
clarinet and piano - including Swanee River.
foregoing should give some idea of the stylistic areas
covered by the disc and by this enterprising, closely-knit
band. You can, if you like, also catch some indigenous
Georges Brassens-sounding French in Fiddle or the
compressed rhythm and blues treatment meted out to the
introduction to Rhapsody in Blue (it works).
can imagine some people finding this just too busy, too
knowing, maybe too over arranged. Pas moi, as they say.
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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