This review is from the September 19, 2011 edition of the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin.
Hilda Bronstein Sings Yiddish Songs with Chutzpah!
When I first opened this CD, I assumed that the word chutzpah was being used to describe British singer Hilda Bronstein’s approach to the singing of Yiddish songs. While I wouldn’t say there’s a lack of chutzpah in her singing, Chutzpah is actually the name of the klezmer band she fronts.
The album is a collection of 17 Yiddish-language songs – many of them familiar – drawn from various sources including classic Yiddish films and theatrical musicals, settings of Yiddish poems and several Holocaust-era songs. Bronstein sings the quieter, sombre songs with all due respect and the more celebratory, upbeat songs with much verve.
Chutzpah, which includes Israeli accordionist Yair Schleider, and violinist Meg Hamilton, also noted for her work in the She’koyokh Klezmer Ensemble, provide Bronstein with arrangements that move from swinging to contemplative.
Among the highlights are such toe-tappers as “Abi Gezunt,” made famous by Molly Picon in the 1938 film Mamele, “Di Grine Kuzine,” an ultimately bitter song about Jewish immigration to America in the early part of the 20th century, and “Farbay di Teg,” a Yiddish version of a Russian folksong whose English version (adapted by Gene Raskin), “Those Were the Days” was a hit in the 1960s by Mary Hopkin.
Some of the CD’s most poignant moments come in songs like “Makh Tsu Di Eygelekh,” a lullaby composed in the Lodz Ghetto, and “Slutsk,” a Yiddish theatre song recalling a shtetl in Belarus.