Massel-Tov / Vos iz vikhtik...
Vos iz vikhtik...
This live performance by Germany's Massel-Tov is a lively and exemplary recording of Yiddish folk and Klezmer music. Propelled by Andrea Pancur's delightful voice, the band is entirely entertaining. The arrangements are mostly quite standard--listening to "Simkhes toyre" one can also hear the Klezmatic's Lorin Sklamberg singing along; "Der feter Elye" mirrors Michael Alpert's own version in Brave Old World. Familiarity is not a bad thing when the band is this comfortable with the material, this personable, and this skilled. I find myself listening over and over again with pleasure. And even when the general arrangements are familiar, the band's folkier, flute- and guitar-driven instrumentation provide a quieter, more heimish setting for the songs than is usually the case. Even when I don't feel surprised by the arrangements, themselves, I am pleasantly surprised by the power and life of songs that should be chestnuts, but here are invigorated, such as "Rumenye, Rumenye" or the encore "Shnirele, Perele".
Some of the songs are less familiar, as well. The title, track, for instance, which is turned almost into a capella art song with Pancur accompanied only by dumbek, is lovely, if somewhat conservative in sentiment ("Important is the holy Sabbath ... And a page in the Talmud"). The spoken "Tsvey shvesterlekh", a poem by Itzik Manger, accompanied by guitar chords, likewise for loveliness. There are actually a couple more fragments or poems from Manger, which are all read nicely, and pleasantly accompanied. The instrumental pieces are also very wonderfully done, with a rare interplay between flute and clarinet. There also songs opened up more for improvisation such as the breaks on "a yingele aus Polen", already placed nicely between two lively flute-clarinet sirba duets.
The concert is different from many American productions in its folkiness, but will strike a chord as we listen to the spoken introductions and setting of context, often reminiscent of Adrienne Cooper's introductions to songs. The folky breakdown in the "Lekhayim/A glezele lekhayim" medley is far more relaxed than would have been the case with most American audiences (except, perhaps, at Yiddish gatherings or, say, a Workmen's Circle concert).
All-in-all, this is a very likeable recording, and an excellent concert.
Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 6/6/03
Personnel this recording:
Andrea Pancur: vocals
Tatjana Mischenko: transverse flute
Florian Ewald: clarinet
Zarko Mrdjanov: guitar
Michi Marchner: accoustic bass, guitar
Roman Seehon: percussion
- Shpilt-zshe mir dem nayem sher--play the new Sher for me (trad., arr. Massel-Tov) 3:59
- Simkhes toyre (M. Warshavsky) 4:16
- Firn di mekhutonim aheym--accompanying the in-laws home (Naftule Brandwein) 4:15
- Vikhtik--what is important (E. Vassermann) 3:57
- Sirba I (Dave Tarras) 1:53
- A yingele fun poyln--a Polish lad (trad., arr. Massel-Tov) 5:17
- Sirba II (trad., arr. Massel-Tov) 7:15
- Tsvey shvesterlekh--two sisters (Itzik Manger) 1:44
- Far dir--for you (Music: F. Ewald; Words: A. Pancur) 5:13
- Lekhayim/A gelezele lekhayim (5:36)
- Mazl-tov (trad., arr. Massel-Tov) 4:20
- Der feter Elye--Uncle Elye (Words: Moyshe Kulbak) 3:57
- Hora (trad., arr. Massel-Tov) 2:38
- Der heiser tartar (Naftule Brandwein) 2:23
- Rumenye (A. Lebedeff) 6:20
- Shnirele, perele (trad., arr. Massel-Tov) 8:09