Silent Tears: The Last Yiddish Tango is a CD of songs based on the recollections of Holocaust survivors. Some of the songs deal with events during the Holocaust and others with the trauma of survivors. There are two main sources for the lyrics. One is the Baycrest Holocaust Surviviors Poetry Project facilitated by Dr. Paula David. The poems produced during that process were published in 1995 and adapted for this project. Other songs are based on the writings of Holocaust survivor Molly Applebaum who escaped by being buried under a barn in a small wooden box. The English texts have been adapted for this project by Dan Rosenberg and translated into Yiddish, others were originally written in Polish and remain in that tongue.
The music is based on the inter-war tango tradition in the Jewish communities of Central Europe. Some of it is newly composed by Rebekah Wolkstein and some of it is drawn from the work of composers, such as Artur Gold, who were killed in the camps. There’s also a Romani waltz played on accordion by Moldovan virtuoso Sergiu Popa reminding us that it wasn’t just Jews who were murdered by the Nazis.
These songs are incredibly moving but tough to listen to. The subject matter is horrific and somehow the upbeat music just makes them even more devastating. They are beautifully played and sung by the members of the Payadora Tango Ensemble featuring various combinations of Rebekah Wolkstein (Violin), Drew Jurecka (Bandoneon and Violin, Robert Horvath (Piano), Joseph Phillips (Double Bass), Sergiu Popa (Accordion) plus vocalists Aviva Chernick, Olga Avigail Mieleszczuk, Marta Kosiorek and Lenka Lichtenberg. The recording quality is excellent (I listened to 24 bit, 48kHz .wav files) and the documentation contains text translations and loads of useful information.
One of the tracks has also been recorded as an award winning music video. It gives a pretty good idea of what the album is all about. The CD will be officially launched in Holocaust Remembrance Week with live performances at the NAC in Ottawa (January 24th, tickets here) and Heliconian Hall in Toronto (January 25th, tickets here).
The cover illustration is by Roman Halter; the sole member of his family to survive the camps.
Catalogue information: Six Degrees Records; sorry I don’t have a catalogue number at this time.
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