Moshe Berlin Ensemble
Aneinu - Hasidic Orthodox Music from the Festival of the Torah in Jerusalem
Wergo SM1628 2
Full Price (73 mins)
There are two ways to look at klezmer music in Israel: the first, that it has never been much in fashion – most Israelis treat its appearance on TV for Jewish festivals like the Queen’s speech at Xmas, to be tolerated rather than loved; the second, that it has never gone out of fashion, still performed at religious Hasidic functions and feasts much as it has been for many years. Moshe Berlin is one of the best known clarinet players in the celebratory Israeli Hasidic Orthodox tradition, and throughout this live field recording from a jubilant annual Simchat Torah festival in Jerusalem in 1992, his backing band of drums, guitar and keyboard and what sounds like hundreds of Yeshiva students sing wordless nigunim and religious folksongs from across the Jewish world like their lives depend on it. Berlin’s style of klezmer relies a lot less than its US cousins on jazz and adventurous arrangements, and a lot more on the old fashioned values of simple harmony, clearly articulated playing and directness of intent. The playing, however good, is let down by one crucial factor – the quality of the recording, which is awful. It sounds like it was recorded on a pre-historic mobile phone inside a bag under a table, and the effect is like gate-crashing a wedding when the atmosphere is starting to get lairy. Strictly for students and klezmasochists.