Effi Netzer is one of Israel's leading composers. The Beit Rothschild Singers are an amateur mixed chorus. At first it may seem disappointing to learn that these songs are sung by amateurs. But this music, though popular, is not like the Rolling Stones. It's folk music which belongs to a whole nation and thus is appropriately sung by ordinary people. Furthermore, Israel has a history of trying to create a collective folk culture, as exemplified by the Kibbutz, where this kind of singing would be common. In any case, these people do not have ordinary voices. They are quite talented, whether in ensemble or as soloists. Nor are the instrumentalists ordinary on the oud, accordion, and Middle Eastern drums. But except for the handful of dances, which are instrumentals, the chorus is the star. Even if you know nothing about Jewish or Israeli culture, you will recognize the bouncy "Hava Nagila" with its enjoinder to dance and be merry. Others will sound like old friends even if you've never heard them. "Hevenu Shalom Aleichem" features flutes and wishes you peace. Not all the songs are traditional. Some are new folk and three were co-written by Effi Netzer. One of these, "Bat Hacarmel," demonstrates a delightful mixture of Middle Eastern and Yiddish influences. Warmly recommended to lovers of folk music everywhere.
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AllMusic Review by Kurt Keefner