Nikitov is one of the best of the new Yiddish folksong ensembles. This is something seen far more often in Europe than in the US, where one might see Celtic folk band almost any night of the week, but Jewish folk has largely been relegated to a few numbers by a wedding band. On the other hand, neither is this a reworking of Yiddish folk music in new idiom, as say, Golem or Khevre, or for that matter German bands such as Aufwind. Rather, this is a very well-done collection of beautifully sung Yiddish folk songs from Europe, from America, including Yiddish theatre favorites, backed by an excellent group of musicians. And, just as American Jewish wedding bands will throw in the occasional Yiddish tune, here, the band takes on a couple of delightful violin/guitar/bass klezmer improvisations. Rather nice, that, too.
Singer Niki Jacobs manages to impart a sweet, folky, compelling style that even embraces one of the few bearable version of "Shabes, Shabes", a song otherwise high on my top ten songs never to hear again. By eschewing theatre flash and renewing the song in folk idiom, she similarly makes "Bai mir bistu sheyn" bearable and gives new life and gravity to "Az der rebe", a song original written as a satire against Hasidim. Her version of "Mayn rue plats", Morris Rosenfeld's lament to the horrible working conditions in New York sweatshops, is the best I have heard since Miriam Dvorin's recording 20 years ago, with "Umru mayne" heartbreakingly beautiful. There is no particularly rare material on this CD. What is rare is the assurance and tightness of the arrangements, and the aural excellence of the result. This is the best Yiddish folk music I have heard since the Pete Rushefsky/Becky Kaplan CD earlier this year and is very much on par with that recording. What a pleasure!
01. Sha shtil (Leo Kopf)
02. Shabes (anon.)
03. Bai mir bistu sheyn (words: J. Jacobs; music: S. Secunda)
04. Bessarabyanka (trad., arr. Nikitov)
05. Mayn rue plats (Morris Rosenfeld)
06. Di Mizinke Oysgegebn (M. M. Warshawsky)
07. Shloimele, malkele (words: I. Lillian; music: J. Rumshinsky)
08. Di Krenetse (words: I. Fefer; music: S. Polonski)
09. Umru mayne (words: M.L. Halpern; music: B. Jomen)
10. Az der rebe (trad.)
11. Yankele (M. Gebirtig)
12. Reyzele (M. Gebirtig)
13. Dona, dona (words: A.Zeitlin; music: S. Secunda)
Niki Jacobs: vocals
Jelle van Tongeren: violin
Adam Good: acoustic guitar
Jason Sypher: acoustic bass
Bringing together Bartók's folk music collections and his classical compositions to create a new living tradition in Hungarian folk music. This unique project could only be achieved by Hungary's foremost folk ensemble, Muzsikás.
They are joined by Márta Sebestyén and Romanian born classical violinist Alexander Blanescu. Together they recreate what Bartók heard, how he incorporated this in his own compositions and how a Muzsikás themselves interpret the music.
"Now, when I work with Muzsikas ensemble, I feel that something important is happening to me. I can feel just how important for me is the cultural background against which I grew up, the area from where I came."
"This CD is an exploration of the close relationship between the composer Béla Bartók and folk music. It is an exploration seen through the eyes of the Muzsikás group. In our CD, we are searching for the answer, what is it in folk music, that attracted Bartók like a magnet?"
01. Elindultam a hazámból / I left my homeland
02. Mérai lassú csárdás és szapora / Dances of Kalotaszeg
03. Pásztornóták hosszúfurulyán / Long flute melodies
04. Forgácskóti legényes / Lads' dance called "Forgácskúti"
05. Pejparipám rézpatkója / The shoe of my horse
06. Bartók Béla: 28. duó "Bánkódás" / Béla Bartók: Duo No 28. "Sorrow"
07. Bonchidai ritka magyar / Slow dance of Lads' from Bonchida
08. Porondos víz martján / At the waterside
09. Kanásztáncok két hegedűn / Swinheards' dance
10. Jocul barbatesc
11. Bartók Béla: 32. duó "Máramarosi tánc" / Béla Bartók: Duo No 32
12. Máramarosi táncok / Dances of Máramaros
13. Botos tánc "Jocul cu bata" / Bota
14. Torontáli táncok / Dances of Torontál
16. Bartók Béla: 44. duó "Erdélyi tánc" / "Transylvanian Dance"
17. Füzesi ritka magyar / Lads' dance from Füzes
18. Pe loc
19. Magyarbecei öreges csárdások / Music of Magyarbece
20. Dunántúli ugrósok / Transdanubian "ugrós"
21. Dunántúli friss csárdások / Fast csárdás
22. A temető kapu / Churchyard gate
Mihály Sipos - violin
Péter Éri - viola, violin, kaval, guitar, percussion
László Porteleki - violin
Dániel Hamar - double bass, little cimbalom, beat gardon, percussion
Márta Sebestyén - voice
Balanescu Alexander - violin
János Köles Kovács - tambur
Zoltán Juhász - long flute
Márton Éri - cello
Zoltán Porteleki - cimbalom
Ildikó Tóth - dance
Zoltán Farkas - beat gardon, drum, dance