Salom Comrade!

Yiddish Music in the Soviet Union

1928 – 1961
CD Wergo LC 06356

Collecting all the records on this compilation would require possibly a lifetime of searching and quite a lot of money. Lots of the material involved here is only of interest to those who care about Yiddish music or off track klezmer recordings. The main reason that I purchased this most interesting CD is because it contains three recordings of beloved classical singers of mine. These recordings are not available elsewhere and are for the first time released on the CD medium.
The first of these singers is the tenor Misha Alexandrovich (1914-2002). Alexandrovich managed to leave the USSR in 1971 and subsequently captured the attention of  vocal buffs thanks to an early LP release (bless you Ellen Lebow) on the legendary Club-99 label. His mellow, sweet and artistic tenor can be heard in a recording from 1947. Several CD’s and LP’s now circulate but none of them contain this recording of “Grandmother Recalled”.
The second is a recording of Marina Gordon (b.1917) from 1956. There was once an LP release on the Melodya label but it didn’t contain this item and the LP is now very hard to come by. Gordon and Alexandrovich belonged to that generation of classical singers who brought the art of Yiddish song to an equal status with classical Lieder singing. All tenor lovers know the voice of Solomon Khromchenko (1907-2002) from several Melodya LP releases but as far as I know none of them contained “On The High Mountain”, a 1948 recording. This is an extremely interesting recording as he is accompanied by Michael Fikhtengoltz one of the great violinists of the Soviet Union. Lovers of coloratura voices will know the voice of Deborah Pantofel-Nechetskaya (1905 – 1998) the legendary singer of the Glière concerto who studied with Eugenia Bronskaya.  I’ve never known she also recorded Yiddish songs. Included is a charming and moving ‘Viglid’ from 1948. Pantofel recordings have always been hard to come by and her (only?) Melodya LP is still on my wants list. There are other wonderful surprises as well and these include recordings of Zinovii Shulman (1906-1976) a classically trained tenor with all the assets of the cantors of yesteryear including easy trills and a sublime use of the headvoice. Another revelation to me was the voice of operetta trained Anna Guzik 1909-1994) who displays great artistry in a lullaby from 1956. Equally moving is another lullaby by opera singer Sofia Druker (1907-1984).   This may be one of the very few recordings she ever made. Saul Liubimov is another singer who shows how Yiddish song can (should) be performed, ditto for Michael Epelbaum. Readers who have a weakness for the Yiddish song repertoire need no introduction to Emil Gorovets (1923-2001) who here sings the well-known song Reyzele on a recording from 1956 in his very prime as a singer. Though several other singers are missing (volume two?) both Joel Rubin and Rita Ottens need to be complimented on making these often sublime rarities available to all of us.

Rudi van den Bulck, Opera Nostalgia