Saturday, November 14, 2009

Symphonic klezmer, big music in a minor key.

Timing is everything. Writing my latest "Jewish Music on the North Coast" blog post got me thinking about symphonic klezmer. At the same time, an email thread on the same topic popped up on the KlezmerShack mailing list. I love it when that happens. I was familiar with most of the pieces mentioned, and will list them in a moment. What I wanted to share first is a wonderful radio show on symphonic klezmer that was suggested by Rochelle Zucker of the Winnipeg Jewish Radio Hour. The show is hosted by Fred Flaxman and is part of his Compact Discoveries radio program. Compact Discoveries is an offbeat introduction to classical music that includes such shows as Music for Insomniacs, Favorite Funeral Music, One-Hit American Composers and, of course, Symphonic Klezmer.

In the hour long program, Flaxman presents compositions by Canadian composers -- the Suite for Klezmer Band and Orchestra by Sid Robinovitch and The Old Toronto Klezmer Suite by Srul Irving Glick -- and "Klezmers" from the Vaudeville suite by the American composer Paul Schoenfield. You can read a transcript of his show on the Compact Discoveries website and listen to the full show on the website. Sadly, while the show is free it requires you to create a PRX account and can only be listened online. No podcast / download. Sorry, PRX. No biscuit for you.

In addition to the pieces presented by Flaxman, here are a few more pieces discussed on Klezmershack.

Kol Simcha's Shabbes

  • Ofer Ben-Amots lovely Klezmer Concerto, which also involved David Krakauer and premiered in Portland Oregon in 2007. Here is a video of the first of it's three movements, performed by The Herzilya Chamber Orchestra in Herzilya Israel last month (October 2009). Movements 2 and 3 are also available.
The Klezmer Concerto, I. Pastoral Doyna

  • The Milken Archive has a wonderful disc titled "Klezmer Concerto's and Encore's" which features, of course, David Krakuer. The disc includes Robert Starer's "K'li Zemer", Paul Schoenfield's "Klezmer Rondos", Jacob Weinberg's "The Maypole" and "Canzonetta", Abraham Ellstein's "Hassidic Dance", and Osvaldo Golijov's "Rocketekya".
  • Osvaldo Golijov has also composed "The Dreams and Prayers of Issac the Blind", a piece for klezmer clarinet and string quartet. Here is a section of it performed by members of Brooklyn Rider, with Max Treitler and Keith Lipson.
Osvaldo Golijov's "Isaac the Blind" at Angel Orensanz

This is only a start. There's a lot more out there and I'll present more soon.

Hat tip to YouTube user's johnnyg2703 for posting the Osvaldo Golijov video and to the Herzliya Chamber Orchestra for posting the Ofer Ben-Amots video.

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