FleytMuzik In Kontsert! Yea!
Six years after the release of her groundbreaking FleytMuzik album, Adrianne Greenbaum has at long last released a follow-up, FleytMuzik In Kontsert! In case you might be mislead into thinking that this might be a live recording of the original material, let me clarify that this is a live performance of all new material. FleytMuzik in the title does not so much refer back to the title of the previous album but rather to flute music itself, to the leading role that the flute once had in the klezmer music of Eastern Europe and that Adrianne Greenbaum has so wonderfully reclaimed and restored. Ms. Greenbaum's restoring of the flute to its rightful place as a lead instrument in klezmer is best likened to the kick-start of the then klezmer revival and the (largely) American tradition of the klezmer clarinet by the legendary Andy Statman and Zev Feldman with their somewhat idiosyncratically titled album Jewish Klezmer Music in the 1970s. In other words, it is of monumental importance in the modern history of klezmer.
So here at last we have Adrianne Greenbaum's FleytMuzik In Kontsert!, recorded live at the Fairfield Theatre StageOne in Fairfield, Ct., with Ms. Greenbaum on a variety of late 19th/early 20th century period as well as modern flutes, and joined for this performance by the wonderful tsimblist Pete Rushefsky, violinist Jake Shulman-Ment, one of the leading next-generation klezmer and Eastern European folk performers, renowned bassist Brian Glassman who is as well known in jazz as he is in klezmer circles, and guest musician Max Yassky on poyk. The ensemble playing is, as one would almost expect, absolutely superb, and Adrianne Greenbaum shines on her flutes like the star flautist she is. The arrangements are also outstanding.
The fact that FleytMuzik In Kontsert! is a live recording is a wonderful bonus. I have always had something of a predilection for live recordings as there is nothing that can touch actually 'being there', and live recordings come closest. The enforced immediacy and spontaneity of live first takes is very hard to match in the studio and outweighs any potential disadvantages.
The music on Adrianne Greenbaum's FleytMuzik In Kontsert! is, as is customary in period style performance klezmer, grouped into little 'suites'. Much of the material comes from old Soviet sources, particularly musicologists/collectors such as Moyshe Beregovski, and some consists of originals by Ms. Greenbaum, such as the Friday Night Shabbes Service suite, originally commissioned by a cantor and here given a purely instrumental treatment. Many of the traditional pieces were already originally intended for the flute and thus are quite idiomatic to the instrument to begin with. FleytMuzik In Kontsert! is a totally consistent album, with no weak tracks anywhere, and it really is impossible to pick particular favourites. With a total of twenty-three pieces, it sadly isn't practical either to comment on them individually.
Each of the tracks on Adrianne Greenbaum's FleytMuzik In Kontsert! brings its own particular delights, whether joyous and celebratory or contemplative, even mournful. The liturgical material is treated with greatest sensitivity and respect, and the Mourner's Kaddish somehow has a very consoling quality about it, as indeed does the Kaddishe Fantasy. I commented about Adrianne Greenbaum's original FleyMuzik album, "It is fresh, refreshing, marvelously joyous and soulful at once - it's everything the best klezmer music, and the best music per se, should be, music that not only the ears listen to but the heart as well, and music that speaks to and delights both." I find that this also sums up the current FleytMuzik In Kontsert! just about perfectly. The music ranges from exuberant and exhilarating to profoundly sad, and everything in between. The rich timbres of Ms. Greenbaum's various flutes blend beautifully with the ensemble of fidl (violin), tsimbl (cimbalom) and bass. While the wooden flutes do tend to present a slightly warmer tone than the modern silver flute, Adrianne Greenbaum here also proves that this difference is not necessarily of vast importance and that much more is down to the embouchure and general technique of the flautist. I for one doubt that all but musicians and a minority of aficionados will be able to distinguish Ms. Greenbaum's playing on any of her wooden flutes from that on her silver one. The richness and warmth that she extracts from her modern flutes are quite as phenomenal as Ms. Greenbaum is as a flautist.
FleytMuzik In Kontsert! is rounded off by a series of brief verbal comments from Adrianne Greenbaum that certainly add a great deal to the album, not least a certain warmth and greater familiarity between listener and performer. A wonderful touch. A further very notable nice touch is the sleeve. Not only do the liner notes give a brief, concise potted bio of the performers, but also extensive details of the flutes used on each track. But more even than this, the sleeve itself is a wonderful cardboard one, as it used to be with the good old vynils. I certainly wish all albums were packaged like this and that we could get away from that ghastly abomination that is the plastic jewel case. Most of my (in some cases very) old vynil record sleeves still look pretty good, jewel cases tend to look scruffy very quickly, attract dust like dung attracts flies, they tend to crack or break with greatest of ease, and finally occupy a quite inordinate amount of space. So, hooray for Adrianne Greenbaum, FleytMuzik In Kontsert!, and the wonderful cardboard sleeve. No doubt it has the disadvantage of being more expensive to produce - clearly a factor for self-financing artists -, but I for one certainly would gladly pay a dollar or two or a pound more for this. (Of course, at this time the physical distribution of music might well be considered doubtful, with digital distribution becoming increasingly popular.)
Adrianne Greenbaum's FleytMuzik In Kontsert! is both charming and exciting, and also has to be one of the highlights of klezmer releases since her original FleyMuzik. FleytMuzik In Kontsert! is a spine-tingler of an album! The serious klezmer aficionado's collection can never be complete without this fabulous album, so what are you waiting for?
© 2008 Rainlore's World of Music/Rainlore. All rights reserved.
1. Sher (Trad. / Beregovski) - 4:00
2. Dobridyen (Adrianne Greenbaum) - 2:59
3. Shtoks 1 And 2 + Sher Recap (Trad. / Beregovski) - 3:53
4. Freylekhs (Trad. / State Ensemble of Jewish Folk Music and Song of the Ukrainian SSR) - 1:15
Friday Night Shabbes Service
5. Nign (A. Greenbaum) - 2:53
6. Khosidl (A. Greenbaum) - 2:12
7. Mourner's Kaddish (A. Greenbaum) - 2:02
8. Kaddishe Fantasy (A. Greenbaum) - 3:04
9. Tzadik Freylekhs (A. Greenbaum) - 2:10
10. Rivkele's Hora (A. Greenbaum) - 4:35
11. Patch Tants (A. Greenbaum & Beregovski) - 2:33
12. Teenager Sirba (Trad. / Goldenshteyn) - 1:47
13. Old People's Dance (Trad. / Goldenshteyn) - 2:38
14. Sher (Trad. / Leningrad Orchestra) - 7:30
15. Terkishe - Doyna - Hora - Freylekhs (Trad. / A. Greenbaum) - 3:27
16. Freylekhs, From Dorozhnaia (Trad. / Moscow State Yiddish Theatre Orchestra) - 2:14
17. Zhoks (Trad. / Beregovski) - 2:56
18. Wedding Hora (Trad. / Goldenshteyn) - 1:17
19. Hangul (Trad. / Goldenshteyn) - 1:02
20. Kolomeyki (Trad. / Kostokowsky) - 2:34
21. Dobranotsh (Trad. / Beregovski) - 2:55
22. Zay Gezunt (A. Greenbaum) - 2:59
23. Rumanian Sirba (Trad. / Kostokowsky) - 2:05
24. - 31. Commentary
Tracks 1-3 Johann Stowasser; Budapest; ivory head with winged embouchure, wood body,
bakelite roller keys: c. 1910
Track 4 Theodore Berteling, New York; 8 keys: c. 1890
Tracks 5 & 6 Signed Th. Boehm, wood body, open G#; briccialdi thumb: c. 1850; graciously
loaned for recording by Paul and Leslie Shupack of Brewster, NY
Tracks 7-9 H.E. Meyer of Hannover, stamped with crown, ivory head, 10 keys: c. 1900
Tracks 10-13 M. Pleverics, Budapest; ivory head, wood body: c. 1910
Tracks 3 & 12 piccolo George Cloos, New York; ivory head/wood body, 6 keys: c. 1890
Track 14 Wm. S. Haynes, Boston, wood: 1904
Track 15 George Cloos, New York, 10 keys, ivory head/wood body: c. 1890
Wm. S. Haynes, Boston, wood: 1904
Tracks 17-20 V.Q. Powell, Boston, wood: 2000
Tracks 21-23 Miyazawa, silver body (Classic RH): 1988