Wedding without a Bride - Period Klezmer, One Step Further
Wedding without a Bride, or Khasene on a kale in Yiddish, takes the concept of "Early Klezmer Music" or "Period Performance Klezmer", a step further than any previous such album in presenting all the essential musical components of the main wedding day of the traditional Jewish wedding as it existed in the region of Galitsia-Volhynia in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, with the repertoire and styles also drawn from that region as much as possible.
First released in 1999 on the Buda Musique label, Wedding without a Bride features Budowitz's second incarnation with Joshua Horowitz on tsimbl and 19th century button accordion, Merlin Shepherd on 19th c. C- and Eb-clarinets, Tamas Gombai on violin, Sandor D. Toth on violin and 3-string Bratsch (viola), Zsolt Kurtosi on cello, and special guest vocalist Majer Bogdanski.
Of course it would be impossible to include the full eight day traditional Eastern European Jewish wedding on one CD, or even a boxed set. However, Budowitz succeed in presenting a condensed album of all the essential music that would have been indispensable on the main wedding day. But forget all the technicalities and intricacies of the traditional 19th century Jewish wedding if you wish, and just enjoy the gorgeous music with its comprehensive range of emotions! Dance, laugh, cry in turn as the music would have you. Above all, revel in its sheer beauty.
A great spirituality pervades this album also, one that transcends any specific faith or even lack thereof. The listener is taken on a journey through time and space, back to a long lost somewhere, somewhen, back to a very special day. Wedding without a Bride is like catching a glimpse of some mythical Shangri-La through the mists of time and space.
A strong, consistent album, Wedding without a Bride is above all just great and immensely enjoyable music, and the ensemble's playing and musicianship are outstanding. The arrangements are by Horowitz and Shepherd, with several tracks arranged by Horowitz, and are a credit to their great skill and sensitivity.
The only minor quibble I might have is that the label saw fit (no doubt due to budgetary constraints) to print the superb liner notes at such a small point size as to make reading a bit of a strain even if you have 20-20 vision, and to definitely require a magnifying glass to supplement my reading glasses. This is not helped by the light weight of the (otherwise excellent) paper which allows the previous page to show through. But this is a very minor thing that should never stop anyone from enjoying the music. (Or even the otherwise excellent liner notes.)
Go for it - no collection of klezmer music could possibly be complete without Budowitz's Wedding without a Bride!
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