Харьков Клезмер Бенд
|1. Mitzve tantz.
2. Der nikolaever bulgar.
4. Gasn nign.
5. Di mame iz gegangen.
6. Londoner nign.
8. A glezele lekhayim.
9. Wu bisty gewesen far prohibition.
10. Moldavian hora.
12. Kale bazetsn.
The Kharkov Klezmer Band
The international klezmer "revival" takes many different paths. Indeed it is not really appropriate to refer to it as "revival". The term suggests that klezmer died and has been "brought back to fife"...This is clearly untrue.....For instance, in America, the music never died, but it did lose popularity and underwent many changes. It is only in the past three decades that musicians have repopularised and fed a need from within the culture to listen again to the music from "the old world". The "revival" in the US and indeed in many countries takes on many different guises. We have players who play in a traditional style we have players who purposefully modernise the music, blending modern approaches, jazz, rock, commercial styles, even ska with the traditional repertoire and styles to produce a hybrid music that serves to broaden the audience and to satisfy the needs of the musicians who come from many different disciplines.
Indeed to play the music in a "traditional" style requires a firm discipline and serious study as the music is far more complex and rich than it might at first seem to be. Many players chose an option that is the "path of least resistance" and as it were, take the mountain to Mohammed. Others are prepared to listen, study, and indeed change their long harboured patterns of playing to really get inside the music.
From Kharkov in Ukraine come the band whose album you now posses. These musicians are all conservatory trained and yet have had to approach the music in a different way to those in the West. In the West musicians have been allowed a huge amount of freedom to play whatever music their audiences wanted. In the former Soviet Union this was not the case. It was forbidden under Soviet rule to play Jewish music, and in the words of Arcady Gendler, who comes from Soroki in Moldova, "Under Soviet rule, Yiddish culture stopped like a clock". It has only been possible to play Jewish music openly in Ukraine since 1991.The five musicians you hear on this recording have started playing klezmer music only since the collapse of Soviet Russia.
In recent years there has been a wealth of interest in Yiddishkeit (Yiddish culture) in the former Soviet Union. Brought into the Eastern Jewish consciousness by several bodies and events (namely Klezfest in St. Petersburg, Klezfest in Kiev and work by the late Leonid Sonts from Kazan, and his Jewish Community Centre) and funded by The Jewish Community Development Fund for Russia and the Ukraine (a division of American Jewish World Service), also by the Joint.... slowly and yet with great energy and passion, and with determination and skill, the Jews of the former Soviet Union have begun to place themselves on the map of Worldwide Yiddish Music. The
Kharkov Klezmer Band, one of the leaders in the field, have played across Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Austria and the United Kingdom.
I first met Stanislav Raiko, the leader of The Kharkov Klezmer Band, in St Petersburg at Klezfest in July 2000. I was deeply impressed by his commitment to a traditional violin style that isn't heard too often. His passion for the tradition and his interpretation of old repertoire was richer, more detailed and more interesting than many of the violinists that I had heard previously in any country.
The selection of repertoire on this album shows a great many different styles of dance tunes and songs. Some of the tunes were found by Stanislav in the Beregovskiy archives of the Vernadsky library in Kiev. Others are part of the popular klezmer and Yiddish repertoire. Sources vary from archive recordings, Chassidic niggunim (wordless ecstatic songs), theatre song.....
Kharkov Klezmer Band are without a doubt the most traditional sounding ensemble to have come from Ukraine, indeed the former Soviet Union. One senses a journey of amazing discovery, as though the musicians on this recording have found a world that is for them new and yet old, and that they inhabit this world without apology, without self-consciousness and with great passion and love. From the heartland of Yiddishkeit, from the source itself comes and new, fresh and exciting version of the old. I "would like to say without a shadow of doubt, in answer to Arcady Gendler...that with these five musicians the clock that is Yiddishkeit is ticking again!
Merlin Shepherd, UK, April 2003