Itzhak Perlman / In the Fiddler's House

Album cover: Impressionistic painting, Hassidic Dance.

Itzhak Perlman
In the Fiddler's House
Angel Records, CDC 7243 5, 1995
810 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019

Browsing through my local record store recently I came upon some awful mishmash called something like "all the Jewish music you'll ever need," played by the London Symphony Orchestra or somesuch, consisting, mostly, of Fiddler on the Roof songs. Feh. Take a tip from Ari. You want an album that exemplifies klezmer music where it is today? You want an album that you can play for your grandparents or grandkids and everyone is gonna kvell (make happy noises). This is the one.

First off, I really think that Perlman, otherwise known as a wonderful classical violinist, really gets this klezmer stuff. Second off, on this album he is playing with some of the best bands out there--and even better, bands that represent a variety of modern approaches to klezmer. And he's Perlman, so he manages to fit in, regardless. I mean, we're listening to styles that go from the full tilt boogie of the Klezmatics on "The Gayster" or "Fisherlid", to the bluegrass phrasing on Andy Statman's "Tati Un Mama Tants." For that matter, as an innocent byproduct, we also have a CD recording of Statman's wonderful, and seminal, "Flatbush Waltz," a song I haven't heard live or on recording in too many years.

All things considered, the only reason not to have this album is because you've already bought the VCR of the concert, and don't feel that you need both. (Bootlegs off your TV from the zillion PBS rebroadcasts don't count.) This isn't revolutionary klez, or the next generation, it's a celebration of klezmer and Jewish music played impeccably, with spirit and enjoyment. That's a very good thing.

I just wish the typography on the otherwise impeccable liner notes wasn't so ghastly. Even Lorin Sklamberg's Yiddish typesetting is placed on the wrong side of the page, presumably to fight ease of moving the eye back and forth between transcription and the hebrew letters--and that is the least of typographic sins: Bad column width; questionable type choice; clear lack of awareness of proper symbols (typewriter quotes, for instance); horrific line breaks; general blotchy ugliness. But you aren't going to read the liner notes, complete though they are--just relax and listen to the music.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow 5/26/96


  1. Brave Old World: "Reb Itzik's Nign" (Alan Bern) 6:00
  2. The Klezmatics: "Simkhes Toyre Time" (Warshawsky/London; arr. London/Perlman) 3:22
  3. The Andy Statman Klezmer Orchestra: "Flatbush Waltz" (Andy Statman) 6:11
  4. The Klezmer Conservatory Band: "Wedding Medley" [Mekhuteneste Mayne (trad., arr. KCB) / Russian Sher (trad., arr. KCB) / The Epsteins (Peshy Melnick, arr. KCB)] 5:07
  5. The Klezmatics: "Dybbuk Shers" (Alicia Svigals) 4:45
  6. Brave Old World: "Basarabye" (trad./Alpert/Bern) 6:55
  7. The Klezmer Conservatory Band: "Firn Di Mekhutonim Aheym" (Naftule Brandwein; arr. KCB) 5:33
  8. The Andy Statman Klezmer Orchestra: "Tati Un Mama Tants" (Andy Statman) 5:48
  9. The Klezmatics: "Fisherlid/Klezmatics Khosidl" (Trad./Greenblatt; arr. London) 6:24
  10. The Andy Statman Klezmer Orchestra: "Der Alter Bulgar & Forshpil" (Trad.; arr. Statman) 5:50
  11. The Klezmer Conservatory Band: "Ale Brider" (Trad.; arr. KCB) 3:43
  12. The Klezmatics: "Honga" (Trad.; arr. London) 2:47
  13. Brave Old World: "Doyna & Skotshna" (Trad./Bjorling) 3:31
  14. The Klezmer Conservatory Band: "Der Heyser Bulgar" (Trad., arr. KCB) 3:50
  15. The Klezmatics: "Di Gayster" (Doyna Structure: London; Doyna improv.: Krakauer/Licht/London/Perlman) 1:36

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