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In The Fiddler's House / Itzhak Perlman

Release Date: 10/03/2006 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 68609  
Composer:  Various
Performer:  Itzhak Perlman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Klezmatics
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

IN THE FIDDLER’S HOUSE Itzhak Perlman (vn); 1 Samuel Sanders (pn); 2 Red Buttons (voc); 3 Fyvush Finkel (voc); 4 Leopold Kozlowski (pn); 5 Brave Old World; 6 Kapelye; 7 The Klezmatics; 8 Read more class="ARIAL12"> The Klezmer Conservatory Band; 9 Deborah Strauss; 10 Michael Alpert; 10 Stuart Brotman; 10 David Krakauer; 10 Judy Bressler; 11 Golden Land Klezmer Band; 13 Lipovsky Mlotek Warschauer Trio; 14 Andy Statman (cl) 15 EMI 68609 (DVD: 54:12)

TRAD (arr. Bjorling) Rufn di Kinder Aheym. 6 SCHWARTZ Doyna and Hora. 10 TRAD (arr. Alpert, Bern) Basarabye. 1,6 DOKTOR, SAPOZNIK (arr. Sapoznik, Sokolow) Ikh Bin a Boarder Bay Mayn Vayb. 4,7 TRAD, TARRAS (arr. Klezmer Conservatory Band) Wedding Dance Melody. 1,9 ELLSTEIN, PICON (arr. Netsky) Abi Gezunt. 11,9 TRAD Ahavas Oylom. 3,13 GEBIRTIG (arr. Kozlowski) Reyzele. 1,5 ACHRON Hebrew Melody, op. 33. 1,2 MUSIKER (arr. Klezmer Conservatory Band) Mayn Elterns Fargenign. 9 GREENBLATT, TRAD, LONDON Fisherlid. 8 TRAD Ale Brider 8,9,6,7,14,15

Those who admired Yehudi Menuhin’s universal musicianship and far-ranging musical interests should find in Itzhak Perlman’s documentary on Klezmer a welcome extension of the older violinist’s explorations. It’s hard to imagine, say, Jascha Heifetz sitting down to play with the musicians included in the program—though secretly he might enjoy it. But Perlman would—and actually has. The video that recounts his doing so, originally a WNET production in 1995, now appears on DVD, with the crisp recorded sound and colors characteristic of that format. For those who didn’t see the documentary on its first appearance, the headnote tells quite a bit of the story (unfortunately, the headnote had to be assembled from the end credits: subtitles would facilitate assimilating the program for those unfamiliar with the music). Performances by an aging but still vibrantly engaging Fyvush Finkel; a nostalgic reflection and song from Red Buttons; genial attempts (which everybody continually and respectfully lauds as successful) at the Klezmer style—even on an electric violin—by Perlman himself; and ensemble performances by musicians, some more deeply rooted in the past and others looking forward to the future, weave through narrative that traces the central role of Klezmer in earlier Jewish culture and its renaissance in our own era.

The connection of Klezmer with dancing and with weddings, as well as with the Yiddish theater, forms a recurring theme, culminating most poignantly perhaps in scenes from Perlman’s own daughter’s wedding, superimposed over performances by Klezmer groups, some of which include Perlman himself (although which musicians and what they actually played at that wedding remains open to question). Another atmospheric highlight captures Perlman in a Krakow synagogue, playing Achron’s Hebrew Melody with Samuel Sanders. It’s a piece that many great violinists, including Heifetz and Elman, like Perlman himself, have championed; and though it may be far removed from Klezmer, the central section’s swirling quasi-modal figuration and augmented seconds shoehorn it into the program without the faintest suggestion of incongruity. But back to the dance: the performers continually recall that Klezmer music used to get audiences’ blood running before a vaudeville performer took the stage; and it’s infectious to watch the audiences at the various performances actually dancing in the aisles. But the music and its style continue playing long after the TV set goes dark: it’s easy to see why it’s been reborn, and to feel the energy that made its cultural impact. Enthusiastically recommended, therefore, to all types of audiences, of all persuasions and colors: something this basic and integral to human life has to appeal to just about everybody.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

Work(s) by Various
Performer:  Itzhak Perlman (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Klezmatics

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