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CBC, March 2005

"If you like klezmer music you won't want to miss this one, especially at this price. Five stars."

John von Rhein
Chicago Tribune, March 2005

"…celebrates the joyous klezmer tradition…"

Paul Horsley
Knight-Ridder Newspapers, March 2005

"...a beautiful disc of 'serious' klezmer music..."

Russell Platt
The New Yorker, March 2005

"The Jewish elements in [Robert Starer's Kli Zemer] emerge proudly and poignantly, always conditioned by economy and taste."

Seth Rogovoy
The Folk Song Magazine, March 2005

"...superbly annotated..."
"...a vivid, symphonic landscape of some of the essential elements of the folk form, bending them and at times breaking them beyond recognition, in the process creating something entirely new and different but with the emotional resonance of the original material."

David Gutman
Gramophone, December 2004

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Andrew Quint
Fanfare, November 2004

The two larger works on the disc, Robert Starer’s K’il…and Paul Schoenfield’s Klezmer Rondos…incorporate characteristic klezmer inflections into sophisticated, harmonically advanced structures…

To read the complete review, please visit Fanfare online.

Rob Barnett
MusicWeb International, October 2004

"K'li zemer means "instrument of song" in Hebrew. A traditional klezmer was an wedding musician who played an important role at these events and at other festive occasions in Jewish life.

The Starer has the lonely clarinet of Robert Krakauer musing in loneliness the temperature gradually rising. Strings slither and smoke and dream romantically ((3.11, tr. 1) in the prayers movement. That romantic dream, returns in serenity for the third movement Melodies where the clarinet plumbs the depths of its range. The Dances movement tramps wildly with a jazzy propulsion and a hairy cackling wildness to the solo clarinet line. The same full tilt feral impetus drives the Dedication finale. Affirmatively stomping melodrama ends the movement in an explosive statement. It dates from 1988.

Schoenfield’s two Klezmer Rondos for flute, tenor and orchestra (1989 rev. 1995) were written for flautist Carol Wincenc. The first is uproariously oily sometimes sounding similar to Weill. The second is cool, confiding, intimate and rising to a wailing clarinet accompanied bolero at 5.01 and then onwards to a dizzy csardas. Sousa bowls into the picture for a few minutes before bowling out. This is some of the most ethnic music on the disc. The appearance of a very accomplished tenor singing the Yiddish song Mirele works very well.

Weinberg’s two encore pieces are wildly hyper-active in the case of The Maypole while the Canzonetta is suave and tender. Ellstein’s Hassidic Dance adopts a dignified gait punctuated with some hairily virtuosic Yiddish elements along the way. Golijov’s Rocketekya has a predominance of jazz influence sorting its way through the by now familiar dizzy and confidently feral clarinet line. The composer’s notes place the sounds of the shofar (the Jewish instrument used by Elgar in his The Apostles) in a rocket. The electric viola adds a synthetic electronic burble. There is one moment at 4.01 where the wind instrument is left alone to play as if distantly but with what sounds like a crackling 78 shellac background.

David Krakauer plays to the manner born as well he might as one of the world’s leading advocates of Klezmer.

The notes are very full, as is the standard for this densely documented series. Sung words are given in English translation - never in the original sung language unless it happens to be English! The notes themselves are only in English."

Mark Swed
Los Angeles Times, February 2004

"Klezmer music, with its folk-inflected Eastern European strains, has become a bestselling subset of world need to know nothing about Jewish music to grasp the origins of a cantor's soulful chanting. There is never any doubt about the ethnicity of the laughing, crying, wheedling, enticing Klezmer clarinet."

John Sunier
Audiophile Audition, February 2004

"This lively collection from the American Jewish Music series presents works by five American Jewish composers of the last century which reflect the celebratory tradition of the klezmer band."

Ken Smith
Newark Star-Ledger, October 2003

"Osvaldo Golijov, whose "Rocketekya" closes this collection, made listeners very aware in the mid-'90s of how much vitality Jewish music can offer Western composition. These other works, from Paul Schoenfeld's "Klezmer Rondos" to Jacob Weinberg's encore pieces "Canzonetta" and "The Maypole," show Golijov more precisely as the best popularizer of an ongoing tradition. All of these composers have risen to the occasion -- "K'li'zemer" is probably the most listenable piece ever written by the formidable Vienna-born composer Robert Starer -- and the recording benefits from solidly idiomatic performances, particularly by clarinetist David Krakauer and cantor Alberto Mizrahi. Keep this one on top of the stack for a while."

James Manishen
Winnipeg Free Press

"Traditional Klezmer means entertainment music for festive occasions in Jewish life. But that's just a point of departure here, as klezmer here extends well beyond its norm...Terrific performances, especially the amazing clarinettist Krakauer, and finely backed up by various orchestras led by Gerard Schwartz. ****1/2"

C. Michael Bailey
All About Jazz

"Klezmer Concertos and Encores makes the perfect companion piece to Naxos World's recent release Klezmer - Cafe Jew Zoo. Two visions of Jewish music are presented on these divergent recordings. The former is part of a larger project undertaken by Naxos to release American Jewish Classical Music from the Milken Archive...performed on this collection capably by Julliard and Paris Conservatoire-trained David Krakauer...thoroughly modern and a bit avant garde. Klezmer Concertos and Encores is a great start to what should prove to be an important addition to the American classical repertoire."

Phil Ehrensaft

Any Who's Who of important composers and performers on the American classical music scene, past and present, includes a proportion of Jewish-Americans that is far higher than their share of the country's total population. A passion for art music, both secular and liturgical, and pride in the accomplishments of great Jewish musicians, is a principal vehicle for ethnic self-identification. If the Jewish tradition permitted beatification, there would surely be a St. Heifitz, St. Bernstein and the like. Now the passion and presence are being documented via an ambitious, well-funded partnership between the Milken Family Foundation and Naxos.

The first seven of fifty CD titles documenting art music in the life of Jewish-Americans, and Jewish-American art music's role in American culture, have just been issued. Six hundred works were recorded. Five hundred first time commercial releases. The recordings range from the cantorial music of seventeenth century Sephardic immigrants to the secular radicalism of Stefan Wolpe and John Zorn. The criteria for inclusion are that compositions build upon Jewish musical materials or deal with the quandaries of Jewish life and history.

The first CD features selections from Kurt Weill's The Eternal Road, a magisterial 6-hour pageant. A pogrom erupts and the Jewish community gathers in a synagogue to await its fate. While waiting, they recall their people's history from Genesis onwards. Weill, born into an eminent German-Jewish clerical family, had the deep knowledge to pull this off. He hoped the pageant would mobilize American public opinion to save Europe's Jews.

The Eternal Road involved 250 performers on five stages, with the synagogue in the orchestra pit. There was literally no room for the orchestra, so the music was recorded on a film track. Its 1937 New York premier was a critical success, and the pageant went through 153 performances. Full houses were, alas, insufficient to finance the giant effort, which bankrupted its producer, Meyer Weisgall.

Intense, virtuosic clarinet improvisations are a hallmark of Klezmer music. Three of the five compositions on Milken's second CD, "Klezmer Concertos and Encores", are inspired by this virtuosity. Ellenstein's Hassidic Dance is late romantic, Starter's K'li Zemer is accessible modernism, and Golijov's Rocketekya is pure New York avant-garde. All three are showcases for David Krakauer's magic clarinet. Krakauer trained at Julliard and the Conservatoire de Paris. He's equally at home playing new composed music, standard repertoire, and his own avant-garde ensemble, "Klezmer Madness."

Highly recommended.

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