“Shalom Comrade” CD Released by Schott Wergo

Schott Wergo announces the US release today (Feb. 14, 2006) of “Shalom
Comrade!: Yiddish Music in the Soviet Union 1928-1961” (Schott Wergo SM
1627-2), the 10th production in the Jewish Music Series of CDs edited by
ethnomusicologists Joel Rubin and Rita Ottens . “Shalom Comrade” and other productions of the Jewish Music Series are distributed by Harmonia Mundi USA.

The anthology “Shalom Comrade” tells the history of Yiddish music in the
Soviet Union via rare recordings from the archive of Ottens and Rubin. This
carefully edited production documents the enormous variety of Yiddish music
performed in the Soviet Union, from rollicking klezmer dance tunes to the
interwar Polish-Jewish cabaret songs of the Galician troubadour Mordkhe
Gebirtig, 19th century Yiddish folk songs, music of the Soviet Yiddish
theatre, to art songs with revolutionary texts by composers such as Samuil
Polonskii, Lev Pul’ver, Vladimir Shainskii and Moses Mil’ner, and texts by
the poets B. Bergol’ts and Iosif Kerler. Rubin and Ottens’ 40-page booklet
in English and German includes a detailed essay about the
political-ideological impact on Yiddish language, culture and music and ­ in
the final analysis ­ on Jewish life in the Soviet Union.

Yiddish music played an important role in the cultural and political life of
the Soviet Union’s several million Jews throughout the 74 years of communist
rule. Stalin’s cultural ideologues planned to deploy the music of the
Yiddish-speaking Jews as a building block for the new Soviet music; at the
same time, the “outmoded” Jewish religion and its traditional way of life
was being branded as counter-revolutionary in show trials. The recording of
Jewish music in the Soviet Union was limited, with only 100-150 78 rpm discs
released from 1917-1967. The importance of artists like Solomon Mikhoels and
Nechama Lifshitsaite was immense for the Jews of the Soviet Union:
celebrities of international significance, they were as well known for their
roles as political figureheads as they were for their performances.

“Shalom Comrade” features some of the great performers of the Soviet and
world stage: Misha Aleksandrovich, Sof’ia (Sonya) Druker, Mikhail Epel’baum,
Solomon Fayntukh, Sara Fibikh, Marina (Masha) Gordon, Emil’ Gorovets, Anna
Guzik, Irma Iaunzem, Solomon Khromchenko, Nechama Lifshitsaite, Saul
Liubimov, Solomon Mikhoels, the Moscow State Yiddish Theatre, Debora
Pantofel’-Nechetskaia, M. I. Rabinovich, Zinovii Shul’man, Sidi Tal’,
Tatiana Vayntraub, and Klara Vaga.

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