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Acte Prealable Polish CDs

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Tschiribim, Tschiribom [3:03]
Esa Einai (Psalm 121) [4:23]
Hava Nagila [3:00]
Kingdom [1:53]
Ajde Jano [4:03]
Eli, Eli [4:06]
Śmiech Samuela [2:07]
Mordehai ZEIRA
Hayu Leylot [4:09]
Layla, Layla [3:43]
Hine Ma Tov (Psalm 133) [3:50]
Hoy Artzi Moladti [2:30]
Schindler's List (main theme) [4:01]
Jerry BOCK
If I Were a Richman [4:49]
Samuel COHEN -
Hatikvah (The National Anthem of Israel) [2:53]
Through the Mist of Your Eyes [2:55]
Kwintet Śląskich Kameralistów (Silesian Chamber Quintet): Dariusz Zboch (violin), Jakub Łysik (violin), Jarosław Marzec (viola), Katarzyna Biedrowska (cello), Krzysztof Korzeń (double bass), Karel Zboch (frame drum)
rec. Metstudio, Bobrowniki, Lipno, Poland, July 2012.
ACTE PREALABLE AP0273 [51:52] 

Beyond a striking cover, the accompanying booklet surprises for its many photos of the Silesian Chamber Quintet (SCQ), both individually and collectively. Too many, really, especially with no possibility of a 'photogenic' plea: twelve full sides and two half sides in a twenty-side booklet, with yet another portrait waiting under the CD in the jewel case. Is it beneficial to the listener to see the musicians lurking on dilapidated staircases or in dingy back-alleys? More space might instead have been given over to information on the composers - there is none, not even dates of birth/death; or on the music - again, nothing. Even what sparse facts are given are not always correct. For instance, Samuel Cohen was not as implied the original composer of 'Hatikvah', but the arranger; and the song 'If I Were a Rich Man' from the Broadway musical 'Fiddler on the Roof' was composed by Jerry (or Jerrold) Bock, not Jeremy

Sifting through the photos, the patient reader learns merely that "you will find everything [on the album]: the national anthem of Israel and a children's song, the Psalms of David and a wedding song, a klezmer piece and a prayer." Alas, no full chamber work by an Israeli composer. Incidentally, the last two items are rather cheekily listed as 'bonus tracks'. Yet without them the running time would not even reach 45 minutes, thus it appears unlikely that many listeners will feel overwhelmed by treats - that is, the 'Mecyje' of the album title. Acte Préalable seem almost to specialise in sub-fifty minute playing times in a way that recalls the DGs and IMPs of the 1980s - six out of twelve CDs currently listed as 'new releases' on their website fall short of this already very ungenerous threshold, with another scraping over it by a few seconds. More's the pity, because this label offers much that is unavailable elsewhere. 

Despite the short timing, however, this CD itself is a very good advert for traditional (or quasi-traditional) musics as done in a tasteful way - that is, without drumkit, amplification, crooning vocalist, background singers and the like. The SCQ play well and with warmth, humour - a well-placed human sigh in 'Fiddler on the Roof'! - and an enthusiasm for the tradition which does not sentimentalise it. Their programme, with an average track length of three-and-a-half minutes, leans heavily towards Unterhaltungsmusik, but there is plenty of variety, with typically lively dances inter-threaded with double-edged melancholy. 

All arrangements are by lead violinist Dariusz Zboch, who certainly has a knack for this kind of thing, even if he sometimes fritters it on projects like the SCQ's first album for Acte Préalable four years ago - a collection of pop 'classics' "as seen through the eyes of the great composers of the past" (AP0233). There is an element of the group's desire to be seen as populist in the inclusion in their programme of 'Fiddler on the Roof', John Williams's lovely but threadbare 'Schindler's List' theme and something from Israeli 'world' music guru Yair Dalal. 

Sound quality is good. Credit to Acte Préalable and the SCQ for their bold choice of CD cover, which courts controversy in a still strongly anti-Semitic world.  


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