Fialke / A grus fun der alte heym

decent monotype of the band on a bridge, as though old timey Fialke
A grus fun der alter heym
violet music 9554-1, 2003


Fialke have very nicely internalized a pre-America klezmer style, and it is lovely. This is klezmer without the jazz overlays of the American version. Rather, as one senses instantly as the bass bows the intro to "fiselekh," this is an old-timey klezmer music, mixed in with Jewish folk music. And it does sound delightful. Although not as fiery as, say, De Naye Kapelye, this is a band squarely in the tradition of that band's sound, or the sound of Budowitz. Unlike those bands, this is also a band modeled less on the traditional klezmer band as a wedding band. Rather, Fialke recreates that sound and adds Yiddish folk music for a non-traditional concert audience.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoy the results, especially with the addition of Josh Horowitz's tsimbl, further grounding the feel of the music. But even without Horowitz, the band's mastery of the genre, and the gusto with which they play the music, would convince all listeners. Joachim Pohl's clarinet is masterful, Monika Feil's violin, fiery. (Her vocals are also excellent.) Tomasz Radomski has mastered the old-timey bass sound perfectly, and Emuk Kungl's accordion is exactly right. Listening to both old and new compositions (as, for instance, Feil's title track, "a grus fun der alter heym," one is struck by how deeply the band has internalized the sound, and how well they sound.

The instrumentals on the album are arranged in sets, as they might be performed at a traditional wedding. The individual tracks are kept separate, however, rather than melded in an actual medley. All three lead instruments are shown off at various times, then coming together tightly. In addition to the clarinet and fiddle, the accordion lead on the "Rumanski zhok" is especially pleasurable, as is the clarinet/violin harmony on the "Frekylakhs," or the duet between tsimbl and violin on the requisite "Romenishe fantaziye".

As I wrote, even the vocals are very nicely done. The duet on "Oy Avrum" gives an old chestnut a folksy energy that renews the song. At times, the band also betrays the research that has gone into reconstructing the sound, as on the pairing of a Belf "Baym rebn" with the very similar drinking song, "S'iz nito keyn nekhtn." Following "Indroysn iz fintster" with Josh's lovely "Aleykhem Sholem" is the perfect end to the album. Every time I hear a recording of his playing, I remember how much I almost physically miss watching him play. It is an excellent ending to an excellent album (but keep listening--there is an, er, "Pesakh egg").

I should add a few words about the liner notes which are extensive, in German and English, with very nicely done (and a nice example of how one lays out Yiddish text w/transliteration if one's goal is to aid the reader). All in all, this is a most excellent recording, a welcome addition to one of the most interesting-sounding sub-genres of klezmer recording, that of old-time European klezmer.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow 8/10/03

Personnel this recording:
Monika Feil: violin, vocal
Joachim Pohl: Eb, Bb clarinets
Tomaz Radomski: double bass (vocal on #8)
Emuk Kungl: accordion

Joshua Horowitz: tsimbl


  1. Fiselekh (after Abe Elenkrig and Harry Kandel) 2:38
  2. Fidl doina (trad., after Abe Schwartz) 2:40
  3. Hora (trad., after Wolff Kostakowsky) 2:27
  4. Serba (trad., after Kostakowsky) 1:30
  5. Kale bazetsns (trad., inspired by Tarras) 2:12
  6. Zayt mir gezunt, khavertes ale (trad.) 2:22
  7. Der khazn baym rebn (after Belz) 3:06
  8. Oy, avrom (Zimroh Zeligfield) 2:05
  9. A grus fun der alter heym (Monika Feil) 2:42
  10. Lipovetskaya (after Belf) 3:08
  11. Doina (trad.) 1:47
  12. Rumanski zhok (trad.) 1:45
  13. Forn forstu fun mir avek (trad.) 2:45
  14. Freylakhs (after Kostakowsky) 2:44
  15. Khotinskaya (after Belf) 1:21
  16. Rumenishe fantaziye nr. 1 (Solinski) 2:26
  17. Baym rebn (after Belf) 3:03
  18. S'iz nitokeyn nekhtn (trad.) 2:15
  19. Odessa bulgar (Mishka Ziganoff) 2:04
  20. Baginen nokh der khasene (trad., after Belf) 2:23
  21. Rusisher sher (trad., after M. I. Rabinovitsh) 1:59
  22. Indroyn iz fintster (trad.) 2:07
  23. Aleykhem sholem (trad., arr. Josh Horowitz) 1:10

All tracks traditional/arranged by Monika Feil, except no. 9, composed by Monika Feil and No. 23, trad., arr. Josh Horowitz.

to top of page To top of page

the KlezmerShack Ari's home page
to About the Jewish-music mailing list
to The Klezmer Shack main page
to Ari Davidow's home page