Hy Wolfe is an actor, singer and director whose roots are firmly planted in the world of Yiddish. Mr. Wolfe is the Artistic Director of the Yiddish National Theatre, and the Executive Director of CYCO (Central Yiddish Culture Organization) that publishes and sells Yiddish literature. Having been born in America to Holocaust survivors, Mr. Wolfe’s first language was Yiddish which afforded him the ability to perform effortlessly in both English and Yiddish. His twenty-five year performing career has taken him from California to New York to Europe where he has acted and sung on stage, screen, television and in concerts, and has performed as well in commercials, voiceovers and video films. His Appearances on the popular TV drama “Law & Order” the daytime TV series “The Edge of Night,” “The Guiding Light” and “Texas” are just a few of his credits. Mr. Wolfe performed the title role in “Yankl der Shmid” (Yankl the Blacksmith) for the Folksbine Yiddish Theatre, which was one of his many appearances for this renown theater. Other performances include “Grine Felder” (Green Fields) for the Yiddish Public Theatre and several musical reviews for the Joseph Papp Public Theatre. Mr. Wolfe’s video “No Shmaltz,” which showcases his many talents, was recently re-issued in DVD format.
Mr. Wolfe has toured the east coast with several shows that he mounted with Mr. Herbert Kaplan as Musical Director. Mr. Wolfe’s link to the “goldene keyt” (the golden chain) is through the great actors with whom he has had the honor to perform such as Shifra Lerer, Mina Bern, Felix Fibich, David Rogow, Norman Kruger, Richard Carlow, Rachel Botchan, Suzanne Toren, Steve Sterner, Miriam Hoffman, Zypora Spaisman, Leon Liebgold, Bernard Mendelovitch, Emil Gorovets and Miriam Kressyn. Mr. Wolfe takes great pleasure in the realization that this CD dedicated to his parents is a triumph of the human spirit, a living memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, and a celebration of the resilience of Yiddish culture to survive and flourish in a world that at one time attempted to destroy all that is Yiddishayt.
01 אין דער פֿינצטער 3:16 in der finster
02 אַ פֿרײלעכס 2:27 a freylekhs
03 חבֿיבֿהלע 3:07 havivele
04 דאָס פֿרײלעכע חסידל 2:08 dos freylekhe khosidl
05 עס בענקט זיך נאָך די קינדער-יאָרן 4:43 es benkt zikh
06 חסידימלעך 2:55 khasidimlekh
07 אַ זעלנער בייַ פֿראָים-יאָסל 3:41 a zelner
08 וויגליד 3:15 viglid
09 אין ווינטער פֿאַרנאַכטן אויף רוסישע פֿעלדער 3:44 in vinter farnakhtn
10 ר‘ נחמן בראַצלעווער 1:45 reb nakhmen
11 איינזאַם 3:22 eynzam
12 איך בין אַ ליטװאַק, זי איז אַ "גאַליץ" 2:28 I'm a Litvak and she's a Galitz
13 אומגליק–בלוז 3:53 Umglik Blues
14 נומער פֿיר "המן–טאַש געסל" 3:19 Number Four Humentash Lane
15 דאָס ליד 2:02 dos lid
Herbert Kaplan is a pianist, composer, arranger and musical director. In 1996, Mr. Kaplan ventured for the first time into the world of Yiddish theater and Yiddish music as arranger and musical director on The Maiden of Ludmir for the Folksbiene Yiddish Theater. Here he met Hy Wolfe. Subsequently, Mr. Kaplan and Mr. Wolfe worked together on a production of Yankl der Shmid, also for the Folksbiene, as well as on the staging of Grine Felder for a new company formed by the legendary Zypora Spaisman. They have appeared together countless times on the concert stage, often with Shifra Lerer and Mina Bern, the two great divas of the Yiddish theater. It has been Mr. Kaplan’s goal to keep alive the essence and tradition of the music while bringing to it a modern sensibility that reflects Yiddish culture today. This album, which took a year to complete, includes a number of songs never before recorded. It is the fruit of many years of collaboration between Herbert Kaplan and Hy Wolfe. Mr. Kaplan’s other credits include more than four decades of music making in theaters and opera houses, and on concert stages in New York and throughout the United States. Three of his original musicals and a children’s opera have been produced. Mr. Kaplan is looking forward to the premier of a commissioned work for string trio this season.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Review: Yiddish Songs For The Soul- Hy Wolfe
At the heart of much of Jewish Music lives a Yiddish soul, and Hy Wolfe has tapped into this legacy with "Lider Far Der Neshome", Yiddish Songs For The Soul. Wolfe gives us a cross-section of Yiddish music that follows the Jewish migration from Eastern Europe to North America. Wolfe's years of experience in Yiddish Theater are on display here with a wonderful voice that delivers a rich and enjoyable performance on every track.
Jewish culture is full of both great joy and deep heartache. The music must be able to convey these themes to the listener in such a way that they are enjoyable to listen to, and Wolfe succeeds from one end of this spectrum to the other.
A song of the hardship of rural life in Russia, In Vinter Farnakhtyn Oyf Rusishe Felder, is translated:
The winter sun sets in the Russian fields:
Where could it be more desolate, where could I be more alone?
The theme of life in Russia is continues with "A Zelner Bay Froyem-Yosl," a song about the conern an observant family has about their son maintaining an observant lifestyle while serving in the Russian Army (he doesn't).
Love songs abound in Yiddish music as well, and I like "Khavivele," a song of longing for a girl from the Negev.
Songs of happiness can also be found, and in "Khasisimlekh," we hear about the joy of the Chasidim as they dance, sing, and raise their glasses. They have no worries as they rejoice with the Rebbe.
Yiddish culture found its way finally to North America, and onto Yiddish Theater and Cabaret stages. These songs mix Yiddish with English, and are very clever.
"I'm A Litvak And She's A Galitz" is a song about a happily married couple who love each other very much, except that they speak different Yiddish dialects and can't get along.
"Umglik Blues" is a jazzy blues with a typical theme of many southern Blues songs: the distraught husband from The Bronx whose wife left him to run off to Atlantic City with Lapidus, the delicatessen owner. Still, he offers to take her to Miami Beach if she'll come back to him. Now, who could refuse such an offer?
Jewish life in the American South is the theme of "Number Four Humentash Lane," a Gershwin-style theater song, in which Wolfe tells us what he is looking forward to when he gets back to his home in the Deep South.
The album includes a 24-page booklet with complete Yiddish lyrics and English translations, and photos of Wolfe from his performances. The arrangements by Herbert Kaplan, even though MIDI-based, are very well done, and never overshadow Wolfe's vocal sensitivity and depth.
"Yiddish Songs For The Soul" is dedicated to Wolfe's parents, who came from Poland. It is easy to see the love and dedication that went into this album, and the feeling he has for life in the old country. Listen and get connected with your own Yiddish soul.
Lider Far Der Neshome
Yiddish Songs For The Soul
CYCO Records & Yiddishland Records
A Joint Venture.