Various Artists

Klezmer Pioneers: European & American Recordings, 1905-1952

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A nice collection of very early recordings of klezmer, roughly half from Bucharest and half from New York. These ones cover the span from 1905 to 1952, essentially starting with the advent of the flat-disc format in Eastern Europe (actual cylinder recordings aren't represented here). There's a decent breadth of sound here, ranging from the familiar orchestral sound of New York klezmer bands catering primarily to non-Jewish audiences to the solo tsimbl (hammered dulcimer) of Eastern Europe. The main item to note here is the way that the album catalogs the semi-gradual shift from the importance of the violin as the primary instrument to the reign of the clarinet. There's some beautiful music on this album, but if you're a klezmer fan who's been self-fed the modern klezmer of groups like the Klezmatics and the Klezmonauts, be forewarned that this is a heavily different sound.

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