Stempenyu's Neshome—
Jewish Spiritual Melodies by Steven Greenman

Garish cover Stempenyu's Neshome
Jewish Spiritual Melodies by Steven Greenman

Greenfidl Music, 2010

Available from

It opens with a quite "Gas-Nign," demonstrating Steven's amazing sensitivity on the violin. Soulful, prayerful, this is, indeed, a signal that this time around we are going deep into Stempenyu's neshome. This isn't a klezmer album; it is a klezmer violinist exploring the world of the Hasidic nign and even "Hazonoes."

This is an album to sit and listen to, to daven to. It is also a place where a composer can express himself with depth and complexity in ways that are not usually quite so apparent when Greenman plays (or records) dance music. Greenman's partners are perfectly suited to the challenge. Keyboardest Alan Bern, better known as the leader of The Other Europeans and Brave Old World, lays down wonderful piano tracks. The double cimbalon team: Pete Rushefsky on tsimbl, the traditional small cimbalom, and Alex Fedoriouk on the full-sized instrument complement the violin and voice magically.

It comes as a shock when Greenman's voice breaks in, as on "L'Kho Doydi" or the "Lubavitcher Nign," but having heard him sing, I am unable to imagine how these melodies could have been better conveyed. I also especially enjoyed those moments when he steps away from nign, as on the step into cantorial modes, "Khazones," or the tribute to the late, much missed, German Goldenshteyn, z"l. There are also moments of magical speed as on his "Satmar Nign," or the end of "Nign October 19th, 2008," when he is clearly back to playing dance music (a welcome change of pace), even as he "di di di"s. He can call it "ecstatic fervor" in the liner notes, but my feet know dance music when they hear it.

All in all, this is a much overdue and very welcome reprise of Greenman's "Stempenyu" persona. (The original Stempenyu was a dissolute, but amazing, musician, immortalized in a novella by Sholem Aleichem) If Greenman takes liberties with the Sholem Aleichem, eschewing the lifestyle while wowing us with his mastery of Eastern European Jewish music, all the better for all concerned. I close this review with the beautiful strains of the album's closing number, the "B Minor Nign," playing themselves over and over in my head. It is a wonderful dream and excellent for the neshome. Highly recommended.

Disclaimer: I laid out and typeset the CD. If you consider how rarely I am inspired to make the time to put my own craft into a recording, you know that I am quite biased by how much I love this particular recording.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow 9/24/11

Personnel this recording:
Steven Greenman: composer, violin, vocals
Alan Bern: piano, accordion, Hammond E organ
Pete Rushefsky: tsimbl
Alexander Fedoriouk: cimbalom, bass drum and cymbals


  1. Gas-Nign4:35
  2. Plea/Supplication 4:16
  3. Nign October 19th, 2008 3:28
  4. Lubavitcher Nign 4:40
  5. Dobriden 3:37
  6. Moldavisher Nign 3:42
  7. Midnight Nign 3:59
  8. L'Kho Doydi 6:42
  9. Khazones 3:15
  10. Dreaming of German Goldenshteyn 2:53
  11. Steve's Satmar Nign 2:54
  12. The Unredeemed Mind 5:27
  13. D'veykus Nign 4:20
  14. B Minor Nign 6:45

All music written by Steven Greenman

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