Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fayerlech – פריילעך זאל זיין

   Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania is the city at the crossroads of many cultures. In the history of the city its name Vilnius, Vilna, Wilno, Wilne has been changing so many times as was changing the fate of the city. In various periods Vilnius was home for many cultures and nations. As many cities in this part of Europe, the city situated on the banks of the Neris River was multinational, harboring many ethnic minorities. One of most active was strong Jewish Diaspora. In early 20th century editors in Vilnius published more books in Hebrew than in any other European city. Thus Vilnius was called Jerusalem of the North. Whole of this world has gone during holocaust, lasting in relics and in memories of only very few survivors.
   In Soviet era important position in maintaining the Jewish tradition in Vilnius took “Fayerlech” Jewish Folk Song Ensemble. At the beginning it was a band of nonprofessionals, amateurs and enthusiasts. With time the ensemble reached proficiency and many qualities, as it was led by professional instructors in music, dance and theater.  In 1981 Fayerlech Ensemble was yet quite popular band of colorful spectacles on many stages. Concerts of the Fayerlech Ensemble were safe refuge for Jewish traditions and helped to survive social memory of native Jewish culture. This was the moment for recording some positions from Fayerlech’s repertoire. Two years later it was published as one of the earliest recordings in Yiddish during the Soviet era. 

Fayerlech – פריילעך זאל זיין  

   On their debut album Ensemble Fayerlekh presented most featured soloists, actors, singers and dancers Genya Lev, Boris Landau, Yakov Magid, Galina Liebenstein, Michail Yablonsky and Chona Kab. The band working under artistic direction by Vladimir Glushkov includes also dance ensemble and instrumentalists: Grigory Kravets playing percussion, violinists Sergei Liebenstein and Lev Kaufman, clarinetists Ylya Manzhukh and Michail Yavich with Mark Rabkin playing bass. Repertoire of this album is the set of songs in secular Ashkenazi tradition. There are mainly banquet melodies (Mashkeh, A Glesele le Haim) and leisure time songs (Rabbi Eli Meilekh), while some are narrative (Kinderyorn) and occasional (Itsik), there are also scenes taken from stage plays.
   One of most valuable part of Fayerlech record is its documentary character. Actors of Vilnius theatre Genya Lev and Boris Landau in the scene of weeping for the bride (Bazetsn di Kaleh) show the folkloristic wedding custom as it was yet not forgotten. Setting together elements of folk tradition with elements of popular and alive culture characterizes performances of Ensemble Fayerlekh. Music and song are as much alive as much they are in state of constant change. Change is the only chance to be in accordance to actual consciousness. Well sung, professionally played and perfectly recorded, this album gives the rare chance to understand the past. It deserves four stars even if some voices sound amateur.

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