Khevrisa, European Klezmer Music

Chris Nickson

By Chris Nickson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
It might not be the klezmer you know, but it’s klezmer that’s easy to love.

Long before klezmer took on the gaudy colours of the New World, it was the Ashkenazic Jewish sound of Mitteleurop. This re-creation of the 19th-century village sound has a lyrical stateliness and aching beauty to the melodies. The ensemble playing is gorgeous, although focused more on the ear than the feet. Whether vintage klezmer truly sounded like this, we'll never know for sure, but in a way it hardly matters; there's exquisite joy to be had just listening. The music is drawn from across Central Europe, but the players bring a unity of sound to it, highlighting the similarities rather than differences, and so a Moldavian Turkisher Gebet sits perfectly well next to the more frantic dance of a Bulgar. At times it can seem slightly academic, played with a precision that's at odds with its rural past, but it's still gorgeous, a peek behind the veil of history. This might not be the klezmer you know, but it's klezmer that's easy to love.