A fine collection of art songs based in the Yiddish cultural development of 20th century America. Particularly the early portion of the century (pre-war) gave rise to the poetry heard here put to music. Leon Lishner controls a powerful voice (an operatic bass by profession, in fact), and uses it to highlight the juxtaposition present in these songs between sadness and life (the low notes help with the dread and anguish of life, while the power underscores the determination and celebration). For Jewish music in general, a selection of klezmer or religious folk music would likely be a much more accessible album for newcomers to the field. That said, Yiddish art music is something of a rarity comparatively, and this album is a good one for the purpose. Give it a listen, but be prepared, as it can be something of an acquired taste similar to opera.
The Yiddish Art Song Review
by Adam Greenberg