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New release: The Wolf and the Lamb – Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi

Written by on May 19, 2023

The Wolf and the Lamb – the latest album from renowned klezmer artists Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi – releases July 28th, 2023.

Recorded live over two days in the revered Shakh Synagogue of Holešov, Czech Republic, The Wolf and the Lamb is an album of exploration.

While the songs within draw strongly from klezmer traditions, in line with the band’s origins, an innate musical and, indeed, societal curiosity reveals some surprising secrets of the past. In a forage through cultures and time, the artists paint pictures with melodies inspired by historical compositions, poems, and folk songs of yesteryear. Sprinkled through the unmistakable sounds of klezmer, we witness evidence of cultural crossings as influences from Ukrainian, Livonian, Belarusian, and Romani peoples ring through in a harmony that transcends music and echoes through time itself. The album’s themes are perhaps no better displayed than in the title track. In the band leader Yale Strom’s own words…

“The Wolf and The Lamb explores the tension between tradition and exploration. This tension is a hallmark of our music, which rests on the traditional form and modern exploration.”

An old Yiddish poem inspires the track ‘The Wolf and the Lamb’, believed to be sung as a lullaby, and relays a tale of Jewish communities deeply ingrained in the Burgenland region of Austria. Originally without a melody, Yale Strom composed the tune in the impressionistic classical style. Combined with vocals performed in the authentic Yiddish dialect of the area, the song evokes specific moods and emotions and provides a musical manifestation of the album’s concept and motifs.

An album as rich in klezmer tradition as it is in historical and cultural observation, the instruments featured include staples of the genre, such as the accordion, violin, and clarinet. Also prominent are the flute, fife, contrabass, piccolo, sopranino, and tenor saxophone. The klezmer sound is combined with regional influences and topped with a dash of jazz to produce a listening experience that can be uplifting and energising, pensive and contemplative, but always captivating.

By blending the old and original, Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi create something bold and unique. Much like the Jewish communities of Europe forged new bonds and friendships with neighbours through trade and cultural exchange, it shows that exploration can lead to greater things and enrich the lives of many.

Yale Strom is a violinist, composer, and one of the world’s leading ethnographer-artists of klezmer music and history. His extensive ethnographic research in Eastern Europe plays an integral part in forming the repertoire of his klezmer band Hot Pstromi. Formed in 1981 and based in New York and San Diego, the members of Hot Pstromi are all internationally renowned virtuosos and have been delighting klezmer fans across the globe for over four decades.

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