Klezmer with a Classical Touch?
Daniel Galay's Klezmer's album Klezcontrol was recorded live at the Yiddish Lebt Festival in Givatayim, Israel on 26 December 1999, the group having been specially formed for the festival. The album was released in 1999 by OR-TAV Music Publications, Kfar Sava, Israel.
If you're expecting "conventional" klezmer fare, be prepared to be surprised. Daniel Galay's Klezmer is described as "Klezmer with a classical touch" - but in this reviewer's opinion, this description is way off the mark. Classical with a klezmer touch would come much, much closer. Essentially, I would describe this as crossover chamber music based on klezmer tunes. The arrangements bear the stamp of chamber music writing all over and very clearly. As such, taken on its own terms, the music works very well and is a very pleasant, even enjoyable listening experience.
Of the eighteen tracks on Klezcontrol, two are described as traditional klezmer tunes (without titles being given), the rest are originals by composer Daniel Galay. The compositions are often highly reminiscent of traditional klezmer tunes, at least in parts, while at the same time often recalling romantic and late classical composers or styles, and almost as often 20th century idioms. (There even are a few fairly straight quotes here and there, unless I'm terribly mistaken!) Take out the percussion and accordion, and much of the music could almost have jumped straight out of a (more or less) conventional 19th century clarinet quintet with double bass, or remove the bass as well for a plain clarinet quintet, albeit with a klezmer flavour. As said, it all works well enough. However, as hard as I might try to like it and get enthusiastic about this album, it's just very hard to find anything that's particularly original, inventive, or adventurous, or even distinguishing here. The performance is flawless, the ensemble play very well indeed as an ensemble and you'd never guess they'd been thrown together specifically for a particular occasion. The compositions and arrangements are more than competent, quite excellent in part even, and the blending of klezmer and classical is very smooth and works very well indeed. The overall result is pleasant enough and enjoyable even. Yet, for me at any rate, there is something missing, somewhere...
With all that said, I still recommend you give Daniel Galay's Klezmer and Klezcontrol a listen. You may just love it.
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