Gefilte Fish

Farlibt: Jewish Love Songs

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The booklet for this release tells a little about each member of this German quintet, but the biographies add more questions than they answer. How did a Cologne-born vocalist with an Italian name (Andrea Giani), an English violinist and member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (Joe Rappaport), an American-trained German-Bangladeshi guitarist and DJ (Roman Chowdhury), a Munich-born bassist also trained in America, and a Moldovan accordionist happen to get together to sing Jewish songs? What does it mean to sing Jewish music in Germany these days? (If you haven't noticed, it's made something of a comeback there.) And why did they take the somewhat irreverent name Gefilte Fish? The most amazing thing of all is that once the music starts, you don't care. There have been quite a few previous albums presenting Jewish songs, often only sketchily notated and leaving plenty of room for performer interpretation. Here the accompanying group of violin, guitar, bass, and accordion suggests the textures of klezmer music but produces a result closer to classical chamber music. The love songs on the program come from around the Jewish diaspora, but the larges group originated in the tradition of Yiddish theater in the U.S. They're wonderful love songs (the title means "in love"), mostly from a distinctly female perspective, and the arrangements vary enough to draw the listener in anew with each selection. There are several instrumental pieces. Giani's voice is more delicate than many that have been applied to this repertory, but her connection with the texts is palpable. The songs are in Yiddish, Ladino, and Hebrew, with partial German and English translations. Strongly recommended, this album offers a range of types from the repertory of Jewish song, beautifully rendered.

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