Presented by Heritage Arts & Traditions (HATs Inc)
Reviewed 3 March 2017
Klezmer music is part of the Jewish musical tradition brought to the west by those fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe. The Quartet’s Fringe season was presented by Hats Inc, a not for profit arts and cultural oraganisation based in Auburn in the Clare Valley.
Three of the performers, Ilana Cravitz on violin, Susi Evans on clarinet and Carol Isaacs on accordion are from London with Indra Buraczewska, double bass and vocals, an Australian of Latvian descent who now lives mostly on her family’s reclaimed farm in Latvia. As well as being talented musicians, each member of quartet is also an accomplished composer and their repertoire seamlessly combines traditional and new Klezmer music. While the exuberant and dynamic playing showcased individual virtuosity, the unity of the quartet as an ensemble also shone through their performance.
The performers took turns to introduce the music with just the right mixture of music and talk, educating and informing the audience about the roots of Klezmer and famous players as well as discussing the inspiration for modern composiations. Evans introduced us to Naftule Brandwein, a renowned Klezmer clarinet player in 1920s New York. He was a colourful personality who drank heavily, played with his back to the audience to hide his fingering techniques and wore with a neon sign reading “Naftule Brandwein Orchestra”, around his neck. He also decorated his jacket with Christmas lights which on one occasion almost electrocuted him.
Buraczewska’s deep voice brought pathos to the Yiddish laments – for lost love or farewell to a soldier, but she also does humour very well too when singing the traditional song Bulbes, also a lament of sorts that today’s meal, yet again, is potatoes.
The show was much appreciated by a packed, enthusiastic and knowledgable audience with plenty of foot stamping, clapping and singing along in the chorus. It’s a pity it was such a short season as the quartet deserve to be heard and appreciated by a wider audience.
Reviewed by Jan Kershaw
Rating out of 5: 4.5