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Chekhov's Band

Eastern European Klezmer Music from the EMI Archives 1908-1913

Chekhov's Band Eastern European Klezmer Music From The Emi Archives 1908 1913
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In Anton Chekhov's last play, "The Cherry Orchard," which Chekhov finished in 1903, just a few years before the Gramophone Company made these recordings in Odessa, Ukraine (mostly), the character Leonid Andreyevich Gayev hears off-stage "our famous Jewish orchestra. You remember, four violins, a flute and a double bass." In this period, klezmer music was venturing beyond its original role as Jewish wedding and celebratory music. It was proliferating in secular settings, sometimes disreputable, even underground. In The Odessa Tales (1923-'24), Isaac Babel mentions a bar with a house band of "old Jews with dirty beards playing Romanian and Jewish tunes"; and klezmer would have been the soundtrack of the local brothels, pretty much all Jewish-owned. (One track here celebrates a new treatment for syphilis, Preparation 606... even lavishing a trumpet on proceedings.) Tangy, precious, exuberant, life-affirming music, high and low, mostly for dancing, featuring virtuosi like violinist Jascha Gegner and clarinetist Titunshnayder, presented with excellent notes. Also includes performances by Jewish Wedding Orchestra, Giter's Kharkov Orchestra, Czernowitzer Civilkapelle, A.S. Olevsky's Orchestra, Veinbren's Orchestra, Stupel's Vilna Orchestra, and Oscar Zehngut.

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