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Birobidzhan [listen -- track 1, 0:00-0:42] and L'Chayim, Comrade Stalin! are historically-inspired. Stalin gave the Jews the land of Birobidzhan, far from Moscow, near China. Track 11's introduction sounds austere, sour as a mockery of Stalin, creating so much misery not only for the Russians, but for the ethnic groups that lived in Russia (forcing Roma people to stop traveling and speaking their own language). L'Chayim has a long, raw, sinister introduction followed by a happy dance, with alternative slow-fast sections. This dance is so passionate, so full of rhythm that I personally find it hard to keep my feet on the ground [listen -- track 11, 2:15-2:45].

Elizabeth's singing is memorable once again. At the same time we witness the astonishing virtuosity of the accordion player, Peter Stan (Romanian Gypsy). His talent and agility confirms yet again why Romanian and Hungarian folk music would be very poor without Gypsy interpreters.

After doing extensive research in the ethnic music of Eastern Europe, one finds that the barrier gets blurred between what is Romanian music, or Hungarian, or Jewish. Sometimes musicians mix the styles, or sing a Hungarian song in Romanian language, or 'borrow' gypsy/jewish harmonies and rhythms. This is something Yale discovered and used in his music (whether arranged or composed). His fusion of Eastern European music with Jewish and jazz brings Klezmer into the 21st century and makes it a success.

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Copyright © 14 February 2006 Ioana Osoianu, London UK


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