Frelik, Sher un Khusidl ...
Brass bands from Podolia, Klezmer and other Jewish Music

Review by Günther Schöller

this is not an interesting cover or interesting type

Frelik, Sher un Khusidl ...
Brass bands from Podolia, Klezmer and other Jewish Music
Field Recordings from the Phonogrammarchiv of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vol. 1
CD with Booklet, 28 pp., comments in English, summaries in German and Russian.
Extraplatte, EX-PHA001, 2006

A lot of research has been done to understand the development of klezmer music after it has arrived in the United States. To a far lesser extent the development of this music and its history in the former Soviet Union have been researched. It is perhaps not known that brass bands from the Podolia region in the south-east Ukraine always did, and up to now perfectly know how to, play Jewish repertoire.

The reason why Ukrainian or Moldovan musicians know this style lies in the fact that they themselves or their fathers had formerly played together with Jewish musicians. As a result of the Holocaust and the "cleansings" of the Stalin regime the local Jewish population was decimated (or even wiped out) to such an extent that nowadays Jewish bands no longer exist. Nevertheless, Jewish melodies found their way into the music of other ethnic groups such as the Ukrainians, Moldavians and Roma. Today this music is a key feature of the wedding repertoire of the majority population in Podolia and parts of Moldova.

Ethnomusicologist Isaak Loberan—originally from Moldova, now living in Austria—made six field research trips between 2001 and 2002 to find and record brass bands and other musicians who play Jewish repertoire. Together with recordings collected by the ukrainian ethnomusicologist Rayisa Gusak already in 1991 these treasures of klezmer music and (to a lesser extent) yiddish songs have now been published on a CD entitled "Frelik, Sher un Khusidl …—Brass Bands from Podolia, Klezmer and other Jewish Music".

Most interestingly the CD starts with a piece called "October March" played by the band of the motor vehicle firm from Mogilev-Podolsk, where also German Goldenshteyn once lived. Indeed, some of the music on this CD can also be found in the Goldenshteyn repertoire. But back to the "October March". The reason why this band also played such a piece can be derived from the historical background. During Stalin's dictatorship Jewish artists were put into prison camps or executed. Yeshivas and later Jewish primary schools and technical colleges were closed, the practice of sacred rites was banned. This resulted in the disappearance of a whole range of traditional customs at Jewish weddings and religious holidays. Tradition was supplanted by revolutionary celebrations with new customs, a new music repertoire and brass bands accompanying them. The influence of the music of proletarian celebrations - such as Revolutionary Day on 7th November or May Day - can clearly be seen in both the repertoire and sound of brass music. The second piece on this CD features the same band playing an instrumental version of "Ershter Vals". The style is the same as before, so you can clearly see the influence described above.

Beside brass bands, Loberan also recorded a few violin solos and some yiddish songs, performed by old people who know to speak Yiddish. Yiddish is today spoken by only a few people, especially the elderly. Loberan therefore asked aged women as bearers of tradition about their songs. His approach proved successful and he managed to record vocal music not found in any anthology, e.g. a soldier song or drinking songs. Fortunately, Jews living in bigger cities often try to preserve Yiddish. They also write their own songs in yiddish like Efim Chorny. He is also presented with one song on this CD.

Loberan has also published a book last year where one can find sheet music of pieces he has collected on his journeys. The book is called "Klezmermusik aus Moldawien und der Ukraine vom XIX bis XXI Jahrhundert. Volume 1 (Klezmer music from Moldova and Ukraine from the 19th up to the 21st century, Vienna 2005, ISBN-3-9501922-04; comments in German/Russian/English).

The book and the CD is titled Vol. 1, so hopefully more of his field recordings will be published in the future.

Review by Günther Schöller, 14 Jan 2007, reproduced here with the author's permission.


  1. October March (Band of the motor vehicle firm from Mogilev-Podolsk) 2:08
  2. Ershter Vals (Band of the motor vehicle firm from Mogilev-Podolsk) 3:27
  3. Grine felder—soldier song (Ida Gelfer from Kiev) 2:46
  4. Frelik (Brass band from Studena) 3:25
  5. Frelik (Brass band from Studena) 4:25
  6. A koptsn's lid (Aaron Polishuk, voc from Mogilev-Podolsk) 1:39
  7. Fleshele—satirical drinking song (Aaron Polishuk, voc & Igor Polishuk, acc from Mogilev-Podolsk) 2:27
  8. Yiddishes tango (Aaron Polishuk, voc & Igor Polishuk, acc from Mogilev-Podolsk) 2:48
  9. Sher (Brass band from Pisarevka) 1:45
  10. Frelik (Brass band from Pisarevka) 2:08
  11. Sher (Brass band from Pisarevka) 1:44
  12. Khusidl (Abraham Libman, violin from Ivano-Frankivsk) 0:38
  13. Sher (Abraham Libman, violin from Ivano-Frankivsk) 1:15
  14. Israels gevayn (Abraham Libman, violin from Ivano-Frankivsk) 0:56
  15. Sher (Brass band from Kodima) 2:38
  16. Old Sher (Brass band from Kodima) 1:30
  17. Sherele (Brass band from Kodima) 0:59
  18. Frelik Chaim (Brass band from Kodima) 1:14
  19. Abi gezunt (Alexandra Weksler, voc & Felix Khushnir, piano from Bila Tserkva) 2:14
  20. Heyser Bulgar (Brass band from Pescanka) 2:02
  21. Frelik (Brass band from Pescanka) 1:20
  22. Ukrainian Polka (Brass band from Pescanka) 2:21
  23. S'iz finster in gas (Efim Chorny, voc & Susanna Ghergus, piano from Chisinau) 2:34
  24. Sher (Taraf from Edinet) 2:35
  25. Belz—foxtrot (Taraf from Edinet) 2:04

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