This lovely disc of sympathetically recorded Jewish music of various kinds and of diverse provenance is played and sung with tact and brio by these British musicians.
Only occasionally, on early hearings, did I miss a certain tang of `old world` authenticity, but the more I listened and the more I let this captivating, emotive music seep into my soul, the less such quibbles concerned me.
The 67-minute disc comprises wild uptempo klezmer pieces, mystical Ashkenazi arrangements of Hassidim music, Yiddish songs from Central/Eastern Europe, Sephardic ballads of Judeo-Spanish origin, and devotional songs from the Middle East. It is, as they say, a heady cocktail. All through this delightful album one can hear the ebullience, joy, longing, tears, humour, gravitas, devotion, high spirits, hope and despair that is the Jewish experience. I`ve found that the more I play it, the more it is like welcoming a mercurial old friend back into the house.
Lucie Skeaping sings and plays violin and rebec, while her husband Roddy plays various instruments as well as arranging the pieces. They have surrounded themselves
with a group of like-minded musicians of fine pedigree who play oud, mandolin, clarinet, cymbalom and several other instruments with scintillating virtuosity.
It would be foolish, not to mention pointless, to single out `highlights` from such a fulsome, varied set of songs and melodies, but there are slow, ardent songs which
Lucie Skeaping sings with exactly the right amount of restrained fervour, and rollicking, good-humoured dance tunes that make at least one listener feel like jumping up and flicking a leg and flinging an arm. Then there are more obviously devout pieces that are affecting and contemplative.
The booklet is a thing of beauty in itself, from the Hebrew-lettered detail on the cover of a Sabbath wine/oil bottle to the notes and song synopses in four languages - though not, somewhat strangely, Hebrew!
There were of course - once upon a time - many more millions of Jews in many countries, a cultural and moral force to be reckoned with. Tragically, they were `reckoned with` in ways we know about only too well. It is a small but incalculably
welcome blessing that such fruits of the Jewish genius as the music on this stunning disc are preserved and propagated with such loving care, attention to detail and great good humour.