JERUSALEM QUARTET: The Yiddish Cabaret (Harmonia Mundi)
The title of this superb release is something of a misnomer, as the only Yiddish music per se is a selection of five Polish songs from the prewar era. The arrangements (by Leonid Desyatnikov) and the renditions (by the quartet and soprano Hila Baggio) are ideally balanced between sweetness and sarcasm. The rest of the CD is devoted to works by two Jewish composers, whose relative neglect today is undeserved. Erich Korngold’s Second String Quartet is light and buoyant, its sunniness undercut by an unsettling slow movement. Erwin Schulhoff (who died in a concentration camp in 1942) is represented by his Five Pieces for String Quartet, in which dance rhythms collide with an expressionistic tonal language reminiscent of Schoenberg. The Jerusalem gives passionate and committed performances of both.