Review by Ari Davidow, 08/10/2003
(American klezmer pages)
Fialke have very nicely internalized a pre-America klezmer style, and it is lovely. This is klezmer without the jazz overlays of the American version. Rather, as one senses instantly as the bass bows the intro to 'fiselekh,' this is an old-timey klezmer music, mixed in with Jewish folk music. And it does sound delightful. Although not as fiery as, say, Di Naye Kapelye, this is a band squarely in the tradition of that band's sound, or the sound of Budowitz.
I have to say that I thoroughly enjoy the results, especially with the addition of Josh Horowitz's tsimbl, further grounding the feel of the music. But even without Horowitz, the band's mastery of the genre, and the gusto with which they play the music, would convince all listeners.
Joachim Pohl's clarinet is masterful, Monika Feil's violin, fiery. (Her vocals are also excellent.) Tomasz Radomski has mastered the old-timey bass sound perfectly, and Emuk Kungl's accordion is exactly right. Listening to both old and new compositions (as, for instance, Feil's title track, 'a grus fun der alter heym,' one is struck by how deeply the band has internalized the sound, and how well they sound.
All three lead instruments are shown off at various times, then coming together tightly. In addition to the clarinet and fiddle, the accordion lead on the 'Rumanski zhok' is especially pleasurable, as is the clarinet/violin harmony on the 'Frekylakhs,' or the duet between tsimbl and violin on the requisite 'Romenishe fantaziye'.
As I wrote, even the vocals are very nicely done. The duet on "Oy Avrum" gives an old chestnut a folksy energy that renews the song. At times, the band also betrays the research that has gone into reconstructing the sound, as on the pairing of a Belf 'Baym rebn' with the very similar drinking song, 'S'iz nito keyn nekhtn.' Following 'Indroysn iz fintster' with Josh's lovely 'Aleykhem Sholem' is the perfect end to the album. It is an excellent ending to an excellent album (but keep listening--there is an, er, "Pesakh egg").
I should add a few words about the liner notes which are extensive, in German and English, with very nicely done (and a nice example of how one lays out Yiddish text w/transliteration if one's goal is to aid the reader). All in all, this is a most excellent recording, a welcome addition to one of the most interesting-sounding sub-genres of klezmer recording, that of old-time European klezmer.
(complete review at www.klezmershack.com)
Review by Heiko Lehmann, July 2003
Fialke, the Erlangen (Germany) based group around violinist Monika Feil, has released with this cd a very well investigated and solidly recorded album. The compilation of the repertoire is genuin and well researched. Fialke not only imitates but finds its own approach to the music by the arrangements of Monika Feil and the qualities of the particular musicians. A good, best investigated traditional album with a very informative booklet.