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Spirited ease

Songs of Jewish life -
reviewed by

'... calm and delight to perfection ...'

When the Rabbi Danced - Songs of Jewish Life from the Shtetl to the Resistance. Counterpoint, directed by Robert de Cormier. © 2004 Albany Records

A flawless collection with songs of village (shtetl) life, lyrics of Terezin concentration camp (Czechoslovakia) and defiant choruses of Jewish partisan resistance.

Here are long established favourites -- among them Rozhinkes Mit Mandlen, Sha Shtil, Der Rebe Elimelekh, Tumbalalayka, S'Brent and Shtil di Nakht [listen -- track 23, 0:00-0:43].

With this release Canadian group Counterpoint displays all the polish, precision, and civility one associates with quality concert hall performances. An instrumental ensemble along to assist with and enhance the programme consists of flute, clarinet, accordion, mandolin, violin, guitar, bass and percussion.

The downside in their approach is the occasional tendency to underplay Jewish joyfulness, plus the devastation and heartbreak caused by 20th century warfare, life in the ghettos, the pogroms, and endangered village life.

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Copyright © 18 December 2005 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


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