Three big klezmers

Trio Carpione champions pre-WWII European klezmer.

music note 88 (photo credit: )
music note 88
(photo credit: )
Longing for the days when music meant something lush and acoustic? Missing the virtuous ornamentation and evocative melodies? Love that good ol' mama loschen? If traditional Eastern European music holds a special place in your heart (or if you want it to), the debut performance of Trio Carpione this Thursday in Jerusalem offers a chance to hear rare Yiddish, Romanian and Greek songs performed by outstanding musicians. The newly formed ensemble's sparse instrumentation - accordion, vocals, violin and euphonium (a slightly smaller tuba used for marching bands) - allows for great expression, and the three members are all young masters with extensive experience. Gershon Waiserfirer is one of the hottest musicians on the Israeli ethnic music scene, and a master of the oud (lute) as well as the euphonium and other horns. Violinist Daniel Hoffman, an international leader in Yiddish fiddling, is best known as the leader of Davka, an influential ensemble which mixes klezmer, Western classical, Middle Eastern music and jazz. Avishay Fisz, besides being a virtuoso accordionist, is also an accomplished vocalist/actor, and brings a unique theatrical element to the proceedings. Most klezmer bands play a modern, Americanized style heavily influenced by the immigrant experience in New York, but the core of Trio Carpione's repertoire is 19th-century European Ashkenazi music and folk songs - an incredibly rich strata rarely heard nowadays. Consisting of suites of melodies played for weddings and other life cycle events, this emotionally stirring music is also quite distinct (but related to) other Ashkenazi genres such as Hassidic nigunim or songs from the once flourishing Yiddish theater. The trio, whose name was inspired by the talking carp of Jewish folktales, also draws heavily from Romanian music and its Gypsy-influenced romanticism, and Greek rembetiko, the earthy music of the Greek lower class which had its heyday in the 1930s and '40s. The group doesn't mix genres, but rather presents the material as refined traditionalists who have delved deep into the intricacies of folk music. Trio Carpione is decidedly old-school; it is doubtful that any of the repertoire was written after World War II, and most was composed a good deal earlier, several generations earlier in many cases. It takes a brave ensemble to champion such music in contemporary Israel, where Yiddish is unfamiliar to most and studio-produced pop rules. But there are still those who are nostalgic for the sound of old Europe, and for them, as well as anyone else interested in the roots of Jewish music, Trio Carpione can be a breath of fresh air in an otherwise lifeless room. Trio Carpione performs Thursday, May 4, at 8:30 p.m. at the annual Yung Yiddish (day after) Independence Day party - Rehov Yirmiyahu 52 in Jerusalem. For more information, call (03) 529-0442. NIS 50/35