The Burning Bush, Dec. 11, York Early Music Centre, UK

by Nancy Metashvili

Enthralling the audience at the York Early Music Centre, The Burning Bush performed a nicely varied program of Sephardic and Klezmer music. Their instruments included violin & tsimbl, kanun & rebec, clarinet of course, and double bass plus assorted tambourines and darabukas. I enjoyed the music but found the Klezmer tunes too restrained and somehow not as driving, wild and danceable as they should be. The classical background of the players keeps the music smooth and refined- sort of cerebral, not raw and gutsy as I prefer. The overwhelming urge to get up and dance never struck!

But I loved their Sephardic music! The lyra had a beautiful haunting tone and was sinuously oriental, weaving a lovely arabesque of melody which embellished the delicate interplay between kanun and oud.

An almost jazzy tsimbl introduced 'Quando el Rey Nimrod', which was the only familiar Judeo-Spanish song they did. How marvelous to hear 'new' old music instead of old chestnuts. They've done their research!

Numinous counterplay between clarinet and accordion with impressive fidl glissandos; humourous singing of 'Sha Sha' sliding into a spicy Kolomenka; Spanish ballad to hot Bulgar, highlighting the clarinet player whose fingers and eyebrows were equally nimble; the thoughtful inclusion of an Iraqi-Jewish piece complete with ululation lesson ( and I still can't do it!);

... an evening of music to entice hearts back into the lost world of the Diaspora. From the chill mists of wintertime York to the hot shores of Iberia... Queima! como uma alma luminosa.

Reviewed by Nancy Metashvili, 18 Dec 04

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