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Russian, Yiddish, Israeli Folk Songs
Netania Davrath (soprano)
Unnamed orchestra/Robert De Cormier (Russian, Yiddish), Josef Leo Gruber (Israeli)
rec. 1960/1962, New York, Vienna. ADD
VANGUARD CLASSICS OVC8058/9 [70:02+66:08]

When I reviewed this set in 2000 I was drawn to it by the soprano voice of Netania Davrath (1931-1987) with which I had been enamoured ever since hearing her in the Canteloube Songs of the Auvergne on Vanguard and also in extracts on Alto. She also puts in an appearance (far too few) on other Vanguard recordings including Mahler and Honegger. Readers will forgive me if I partly draw on my earlier review.

Davrath was born in Ukraine and with her family moved to Israel in 1948. There she studied with Edith Boroschek and at the Juilliard with Jennie Tourel. Maturity never seems to have been accompanied by any cholesterol thickness to the voice. It retained its artless, lissom and non-classical qualities which suited her eminently well to works of folk experience. Here is a soprano who communicates in ways that are tender, strong, nasal, arch, shy, abandoned, free from vibrato, pure, unsophisticated and clean. Her sound is distinctly un-operatic. Davrath's command of languages surely aids her readings especially, as with these two discs, where the material is drawn from a wide variety of musical folk cultures.

These two discs contain 52 songs: thirteen Russian, fifteen Yiddish and fourteen Israeli. There is too much territory to cover so let me point you in the direction of only handful of highlights amongst many: The Birch Tree (the theme used in Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony and a Balakirev Overture), Moscow Nights (Dr Zhivago) and Chassidic Melody with its catchy refrain and Es Brent, a lament for scorched earth. The smile in Davrath's voice is in heart-warming evidence in Ad Shefayu'ach Yom.

Robert De Cormier is the conductor and, with M Okun, the arranger of most the Russian and Yiddish folksongs. Various other hands (including in one case those of Leo Weiner) are at work in the shaping of the Israeli songs for which the conductor is Josef Leo Gruber. Some of the arrangements are insensitive. Then again, you encounter poetic and far from obvious treatments which do work as in the Hinach Yafa. The Russian songs are arranged with prominent roles for accordion and balalaika. The Yiddish songs make fuller use of the orchestra which is anonymous, presumably pick-up, band.

Davrath is intimately balanced as against the instrumentalists. Her voice can stand this very easily despite the almost six decades that have passed since the first of these recording sessions.

Hearing these songs, one is struck again by the tragedy that Davrath did not go on to record Canteloube's voluminous settings of other folksongs from all over the world. This splendid collection is one for all Davrath admirers and for those who track the crystal stream of folk music.

Rob Barnett


CD 1
Russian Folk Songs
1 Berieza (The Birch Tree) [2:30]
2 Solnechnaya Polianochk (The Sunny Meadow) [2:33]
3 Nochenka (Little Night) [3:43]
4 Kosichka (The Braid) [2:35]
5 Moskovniye Vechera (Moscow Nights) [4:25]
6 Metelitsa (The Snow Whirl) [2:59]
7 Kupetz (The Merchant) [1:47]
8 Siberia [4:37]
9 Rastavanie (The Parting) [2:30]
10 Proshchanie Moriaka (Sailor's Farewell) [4:34]
11 Kto Evo Znaet (Who Knows Him?) [3:20]
12 Tsvetiot Roshena (The Bush is Blooming) [3:01]
13 Dunai [2:30]
Yiddish Folk Songs
14 Unzer Nigundl (Our Song) [2:06]
15 A Zemer (A chant) [5:12]
16 A Dudele (A Song to God) [4:27]
17 Af a Shteindl (On a Little Stone) [1:26]
18 Rozhinkes Mit Mandlen (Raisins and Almonds) [3:22]
19 A G'neyve (A Robbery) [2:55]
20 Chassidic Melody [2:51]
21 Es Brent (The Town is Burning) [3:25]
22 Nigun (A song) [3:09]

CD 2
Yiddish Folk Songs
1 Un Az Der Rebbe Zingt (And When the Rabbi Sings) [3:32]
2 Reizele [5:05]
3 Vos Vet Zain as Meshiach Vet Kumen (What Will Be When the Messiah Comes?) [4:59]
4 Lullaby [3:12]
5 Dem Milners Trehren (The Miller's Lament) [4:55]
6 Vigleid (Cradle Song) [3:57]
Israeli Folk Songs
7 Mechol Hakerem (Dance of the Vinelands) [2:33]
8 Inbalim (Bells of the Shepherds) [2:01]
9 Hinach Yafa (Behold Thou Art Fair, from "Song of Solomon") [3:53]
10 Shir Hakad (Song of the Jar) [2:10]
11 Roah veroh (Shepherds and Maidens) [2:49]
12 Ve'ulai (Perhaps) [3:50]
13 Shir Hashomer (Song of the Guard) [3:08]
14 Ets Harimon (The Pomegranate Tree) [3:19]
15 Shir Hanoded (Song of the Wanderer) [3:30]
16 Ad Sheyafu'ach Yom (Until the Day Break, from "Song of Solomon") [1:28]
17 Machmad Lavavi (My Sweetheart) [4:09]
18 Ki Tin'am (Love is Pleasant) [1:44]
19 Sadot Shebe'emek (Fields of the Valley) [3:34]
20 Vetechezena Eineinu (And Our Eyes Will Behold) [2:13]

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