…You can see people laughing, arguing, clapping, crying, singing and celebrating. Much of the music sounds familiar and at times – during Orientalishe Motive, for example – it feels as though the quartet will burst into “Zorba’s Dance” or “Kalinka”. Carefully-crafted, classically-inclined compositions sit side-by-side with off-kilter jigs and unfettered oom-pah. It might be folk, it could be jazz. It doesn’t matter. Humanity is at its core.
The quirky, original arrangements are the real strength of this CD. The overall sound – variously dense and sparse – is often dominated by the reedy yearning of accordion and Durante’s melodica. Cello and clarinets provide depth and bite in addition to melody. Improvisation evidently plays an important role in the group’s approach, but it is used to embellish rather than transform. Dissonance sometimes interrupts the flow during Szászrégen and Old Time Sirba, yet it is brief and within context.
Doina in B is very beautiful, in which a repetitive, mesmerising backdrop is overlaid by cello to create a dark and wistful feeling. The interweaving lines of the short Tanz Tanz Yoshke sound surprisingly Elizabethan, and contrast sharply with the throwaway can-can verve of Der Shtiller Bulgar that follows.
The complex Unzer Toirele-Taxim seems to have everything: a chugging start that becomes a bittersweet polka, a clarinet-led period of reflection, and then an accelerating hoe-down. Hopkele is a rousing finale, a barn-dance with singing. It finishes oddly; and then, after a long pause, suddenly bursts into life again with one last manic salvo, eventually fizzling into nothing.
All four players work hard to deliver a set that’s packed with drama and variety. Minimal Klezmer won’t be to everyone’s taste, but there can be little doubt that their forthcoming live shows in London will be interesting and hugely entertaining.”
by Andy Boeckstaens