This highly popular live recording is the first album of the critically acclaimed klezmer duo from Berlin, released in 1999. It is now, for the first time, available in the US. The 14 tracks on this CD were taken from a single concert. All titles are unedited and reproduced 1:1 without any audio filters. Pure joy!
"This recording is in the true sense a record of a unique event - and for those not lucky enough to have been at the concert itself, it offers a wonderful introduction to the musical world of Khupe." Alan Bern
"Klezmer de luxe" Accordion festival, Vienna
"Khupe [...], with their high standards and virtuosity, demonstrate how good klezmer music made in Germany can be. [...] An exceptional album with the acoustic of a chamber music hall." www.klezmer.de
"Live klezmer music of the finest sort [...] tremendously soulful, heart-captivating intensity [...] The last surprise is the outstanding audio quality [...] Those wishing to bring pure joy of life into their homes are best served with this CD." Bremer
"It's an entirely likeable and very-well played traditional album, with nice liner notes by Alan Bern [...] I like them for playing a traditional repertoire, but doing so in a way that places them in our time and place [...] This is also a live recording, and one that features the warmth that a live recording can offer, and which proves that the skill in the playing is not a studio fluke." www.klezmershack.com
"Sixty-six straight minutes of clarinet and accordion music of any kind, be it klezmer or otherwise, is a tough row to hoe, but accordionist Sanne Möricke and clarinetist Christian Dawid of the German duo Khupe pull it off on 'Mit der Kale tantsn', a live recording featuring the duo's dynamic arrangements of traditional klezmer dances and listening tunes [...] In addition to the surprising range and array of sonorities and strategies they employ to keep the program varied, Khupe avoids the most obvious of the classic repertoire, and the musicians remain respectful of the tradition while expressing themselves through the music of the Hasidim and Jews of Eastern Europe. A particular standout is the doina-based introduction to 'Yismekhu', which opens with a stark, pipe-like drone by Möricke, answered by Dawid's delicate, almost fearful clarinet." Seth Rogovoy, author "The Essential Klezmer"
LINER NOTES by Alan Bern, Brave Old World (1999)
'IN THE LAST TEN YEARS the number of groups playing klezmer music in Germany has grown very large. But a group like KHUPE, whose every phrase shows love and understanding of traditional Yiddish instrumental music, is rare indeed. Somehow this accordion and clarinet duo has navigated its way safely through the dangerous waters of the klezmer revival, where commercial success often seems to depend on running away from some of the most beautiful elements of this music, or turning them into exaggerated caricatures of themselves.
The style of KHUPE is lyrical but not sentimental, joyous but not raucous, rhythmic but not pounding, ornamented but not manneristic, original but not rootless, rooted but not slavish. In a word: musical! Musical, too, is the way accordion and clarinet communicate with each other, with an artfulness that sounds so natural that it's easy to overlook.
There is a minor tradition of clarinet and accordion duos in klezmer music - TARRAS & BECKERMAN come to mind, and in recent years, RUBIN/BERN, RUBIN/HOROWITZ, STATMAN/BERN, SALOMON/VAN TOL. It turns out to be much harder to achieve a truly satisfying result than one might think. Although the clarinet and accordion seem perfectly matched from the point of view of sound color, the strengths of each instrument are also potential weaknesses: the clarinet's great expressive power as a melody instrument can prevent it from playing any other role in the ensemble, while the accordion's practically unlimited harmonic possibilites can stand in the way of a genuinely melodic style. All the more impressive, then, is the great variety and flexibility of ensemble roles that KHUPE demonstrates on this recording. The arrangements offer a small school in the possibilities of two instruments, without calling attention to themselves - everything flows naturally and musically.
Beginning in the 19th century 'serious' composers used folk music as the basis for 'serious music' with a national character, 'elevating' the 'raw dignity' of the folk material into 'Art'. At the beginning of the 21st century this rhetoric has been seriously undermined, and although the GEMA still hasn't caught on, there are 'folk musicians' playing with more musicality, virtuosity, and yes, seriousness, than many of their 'serious' musical colleagues. This recording of KHUPE is a case in point - the arrangements and compositions are creations and recreations of a traditional folk music, not 'elevations' but rather presentations of the inherent musical value in the tradition.
It's therefore no contradiction to speak of originality and traditionalism in the same breath - as in the original composition "Di Tsherepakhe", which explores new territory in form while remaining close to a traditional Yiddish musical vocabulary. Another example is "Yismekhu", a traditional Sabbath melody, which on this recording surprisingly begins with a section of Epirotic (Greek) music. Generally, the listener will notice that the repertoire on this recording goes well beyond what has become the standard "core", reaching back further in some cases and inventing new pieces in others.
Finally, it should be remarked that this is a "naked" recording: live in concert, two musicians, no corrections or overdubs, period. Although it's the oldest way of making a recording, it forces the musicians to live forever with mistakes and phrases that could have been played differently, and in an age that demands technical perfection that's a great challenge. The compensation, for both player and listener, is the sense of aliveness and spontaneity that no studio recording can simulate. This recording is in the true sense a record of a unique event - and for those not lucky enough to have been at the concert itself, it offers a wonderful introduction to the musical world of KHUPE.'