Shulamit Kleinerman

New New Nothing or English Country Dances of the Seventeenth Century

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This little disc from the U.S. state of Washington seems to be largely homemade and you have to print out the brief but informative notes yourself (you get a single sheet of paper, including a more detailed tracklist than that appearing on the back cover of the package). The title comes from one of the tunes included, all of which are drawn from John Playford's compilation The English Dancing Master (called simply The Dancing Master in later editions), first published in 1651. Several others have charming titles (An Old Man Is a Bed Full of Bones), and the collection was really an anthology covering many kinds of music that would have been known to a fiddler of the middle seventeenth century, from old favorites like Greensleeves (track 26, the only work accompanied by harpsichord here) to jigs, hornpipes, and various pieces inspired by specific events. The distinctive feature of this recording is the set of arrangements worked out by violinist Shulamit Kleinerman and her collaborators, whom she uses one at a time when she does not play solo. This is an uncommon way of hearing this repertoire, but Kleinerman points out that it is amply supported by contemporary visual evidence, and indeed the English dance tradition as it manifested itself in North America often involved either one or two instruments. Many of the arrangements are pretty elaborate contrapuntally, which is harder to defend historically but does make for an entertaining hour of listening. The hearer encounters new forces for each piece, and the program is selected to highlight the variety of tunes in the book. Kleinerman's overall playing takes a middle path between folkish vigor and classical formality; you could do court dances but not contradances to these recordings. It feels right, and there's an indefinable attractiveness to the whole project that puts the listener in touch with what made these durable tunes. The sound is clear and adequate in every way.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:21
2 1:33
3 1:19
4 1:46
5 1:24
6 1:31
7 1:44
8 1:29
9 2:55
10 1:34
11 3:27
12 1:32
13 1:53
14 1:53
15 2:07
16 1:41
17 2:56
18 1:45
19 2:01
20 1:35
21 1:41
22 1:47
23 1:05
24 1:24
25 1:06
26 5:29
27 2:42
blue highlight denotes track pick