Audio Remasterers: Dan Hersch; Bill Inglot.
Liner Note Authors: Jac Holzman; Theodore Bikel.
Recording information: Esoteric Studios, New York, NY; Mastertone Studios, New York, NY.
Translators: Odem Herschlag; Theodore Bikel.
Released in 2004, this remarkable anthology is drawn from Theodore Bikel's extensive Elektra Records catalog circa the 1950s and early '60s. Vocalist Bikel and label founder Jac Holzman compiled more than two-dozen selections steeped in both the Yiddish theater and the rich folk music traditions of Israel, Eastern Europe, and Russia. Although the formidable track list may seem daunting to all but the most scholarly listener, the beauty and authority in Bikel's interpretations reveal a universality of spirit that doesn't depend on the consumer's knowledge of ethnic culture or music. While on Elektra, Bikel produced numerous titles, and the contents of Theodore Bikel's Treasury of Yiddish Theatre and Folk Songs are derived from three specific long-players. In order of appearance on this package -- as opposed to how the albums were issued -- Theodore Bikel Sings Yiddish Theatre & Folk Songs (1964) comes first, yielding the first eight cuts: "A Chasene Tants," "Doina," "Beygelach," "Di Grine Kuzine," "A Pintale," "Machatonim," "Shabes Shabes," and "Mayn Shtetele Belz." The next ten pieces were initially available on Theodore Bikel Sings More Jewish Folk Songs (1959): "Hulyet, Hulyet Kinderlech," "Lomir Alle Zingen," "A Zemer," "A Fidler," "Drei Techterlech," "Kinder Yorn," "Dona Dona," "Unter a Kleyn Beymele," "Drei Yingelech," and "Az Der Rebbe Zingt." The final lot were gleaned from the incipient volume of Theodore Bikel Sings Jewish Folk Songs (1958), and they include "Der Rebe Elimelech," "Di Younevdike," "Kum Aher Du Filozof," "Di Mezinke," "Margaritkelech," "Lomir Zich Iberbeten," "A Chazn Oyf Shabes," and "Tumbalalayka." In his liner essay, Bikel speaks of the gift of heritage specifically relating to the storied klezmer music, which has been passed through generation upon generation of itinerant Jewish folk musicians and their respective audiences. ~ Lindsay Planer