Itzhak Perlman / Israel Philharmonic Orchestra / Dov Seltzer

Tradition: Popular Jewish Melodies

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Tradition, originally released in 1987 and reissued in 2003 as part of EMI's Perlman Edition, reveals Itzhak Perlman's deep affection for the popular music of his childhood in Israel. This retrospective album of songs from the Yiddish musical theater, many of which were made popular in the mid-twentieth century by such singers as Joseph Rosenblatt, Mordechai Hershman, and Jan Peerce, is filled with the melancholy and yearning they expressed in their recordings. Perlman's performances are clearly informed by memories of these vocalists, and his frequent use of the G string certainly evokes a plaintive, cantorial tenor. The majority of the program is devoted to slow, emotional songs in minor keys, and with rare exception, the tone is nostalgic and subdued, unlike Perlman's later Klezmer album, In the Fiddler's House. The sorrowful melody of Oif'n Pripetchik brennt a feier'l will be most familiar to listeners from its use in the film Schindler's List, though this arrangement is more elaborate and artful. Dov Seltzer's polished orchestrations subtly suggest the lush style of the 1940s, yet borrow little from that era's studio sound. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, under Seltzer's direction, presents a dark but resonant background for Perlman's passionate solos, and bright energy in the disc's few exuberant passages.

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