Prague - Under
strict security at the famous Futurum Theater, an evening replete with
contradictions was provided by four Central European klezmer groups: Kroke
from Kracow, Klezmorim from Munich, Ensemble Klesmer from Vienna and
Katja Kolcova with Umelci v hladoveni from Prague. The musical spectrum
ranged from classical klezmer, to jazz and swing components, all the way
to modern pop versions of ancient prayers.
Kroke, the Yiddish word for Kracow, led in their performance with
melancholic, quasi-morbid notes: not dance-along music, not for weddings
or bar mitzvahs. Kroke provides music for the soul, a prayer. The three
musicians play a musical kaddish, hitherto unknown sounds in Yiddish
music, original compositions, deeply rooted in old Yiddish cultural
tradition and perhaps the very fact that it is presented in such an
unconventional way is proof of the tradition's continuity.
Klezmorim from Munich,sadly without their lead singer who was ill,
cautiously combines traditional klezmer music with elements of
modern jazz. Andreas Arnold's clarinette relates joy and sadness; it
laughs and sings; it cries and is pensive and then once again very lively.
The four musicians at once convey to their audience their own joy in
playing. Unfortunately, the set time for each group was limited to a half
hour. Ten minutes longer and Klezmorim would have had everyone dancing.
The Viennese Ensemble Klesmer led by Leon Pollak is resolute in
cultivating traditional Yiddish folk music with the utmost authenticity.
Performed in the Viennese cafi style, prominence is afforded to emotion,
meditative reverie and soulful fusion.
Katja Kolcova and Umelci v hladoveni ("the starving artists") - the
evening's most contradictory group. A blind singer with a charismatic
voice, dressed in black, stands on stage and begins: "Esa Eynay el
heHarim, me'ayin yavo 'Esri".
(I raise my eyes to the heights, whence cometh my support).
More psalms and liturgical songs follow, performed with a strong voice and
heartfelt: "From the depths of my soul I call to You". Accompanied by a
pop group that was so enthusiastic, that sometimes it was much louder then
the already very strong voice of the singer.
In the "Velka Synagoga" in Pilsen, the West Bohemian public was also
afforded the opportunity of experiencing this event. Those who missed both
performances will have to wait for the broadcast on Czech television