Another fine example of the convergence of various
elements, resulting in satisfying “authentic” music is
“Yiddishbbuk,” a 2002 EMI CD featuring music by
Osvaldo Golijov (1960 – ). Not only did the performers
collaborate with the composer for these recording
sessions, beginning in November 2001 and
concluding in February 2002, but the musicians
of the St. Lawrence String Quartet also inspired
Golijov. “Yiddishbbuk” was one of the four works on
this 70-minute disc, and it was written for this
quartet, who also premiered the work at
Tanglewood in 1992.

Born in Argentina, this Jewish son of Eastern
European immigrants has created chamber works
which reflected his roots, and his fascination
with the tangos of Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla
(1921-1992). This was particularly evident in
“Last Round for Double String Quartet and
Double Bass,” a two-movement homage to
Piazzolla which featured double bassist,
Mark Dresser, and the Ying Quartet.

The other three pieces, including “Lullaby and Doina,”
featuring flutist Tara Helen O’Connor, and the
five-movement “The Dreams and Prayers of
Isaac the Blind,” reflected Golijov’s heritage, complete
with Klezmer/Gypsy/Yiddish elements. Clarinetist
Todd Palmer was also featured on these works.
He has forged a close personal and professional
relationship with the composer as well. Here, his
idiomatic playing is right on the mark.

All of these compositions were written between
1992 and 2001. Together, they represent an
interesting facet of Golijov’s music. Anyone who
wishes to sample another aspect of this
“label-defying” composer may want to check out
his “St. Mark Passion” from 2000, which I’ve
discussed in an earlier post. In it, you can hear
the popular Folk elements from Golijov’s native country.

This CD was accompanied by an informative booklet
with an essay by the composer, who also penned
helpful notes about the four pieces. Biographies
and photos of the musicians are also included,
making this package worthy of recommendation.
The recorded sound is fine, too.