"I Can't Complain (But Sometimes I Still Do) got a huge review in the Yiddish Forward!!
My Yiddish teacher, Sheva Zucker, gave me this copy of Itsik Gottesman's review of the cd Aviva Enoch and I just made. He is editor of the Jewish Forverts.
Here's what he wrote:
From the town of Chapel Hill in the state of North Carolina we have received a cd of Yiddish songs with the charming name, "I Can't Complain - but sometimes I still do" (Ikh darf zikh nisht baklogn, ober baklog zikh fundestvegn). Jane Peppler sings and plays fiddle and Aviva Enoch plays piano. Chapel Hill is more known as the home of the University of North Carolina, and the state of North Carolina is a center of traditional American music - but it's no longer a surprise to hear a Yiddish word from there. It's been taught for years at the university, and the annual "Charlotte Yiddish Institute" has become an important undertaking in the Yiddish culture calendar.
Jane Peppler began to sing Yiddish songs in 1979. She directed the Triangle Jewish Chorale for 14 years. Before that, she participated in the Slavic chorus at Yale University and also played violin in the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Yale School of Music. She is interested in folk music from around the world and is now a musician in "Mappamundi," a group which plays international folk music.
Peppler studies Yiddish with Dr. Sheva Zucker and has already translated a number of stories and Jacob Dineson's classic novel "Yosele." She learned some of the songs on the compact disc at KlezKamp, which takes place in the Catskill Mountains every December, in the Vocal Master Classes with the teachers Zalmen Mlotek and Adrienne Cooper.
The recording's greatest virtues are the selection of songs and the well-tailored folkish arrangements. We liked that the duo presented songs from various genres: songs which are rarely sung and even more rarely recorded. But information about the songs, lyricists and composers is lacking in the recording's liner notes, and even on the website.
This is the first time we have heard the songs "Zing, Brider, Zing" (Sing, brothers, sing) and "Birobidzhan." The melody for "Birobidzhan" is utterly beautiful and the piano and fiddle twine in and out, creating a noble spirit. The usual songs about Birobidzhan are faster and more jolly, but this song, full of hope for tomorrow, has a completely different sentiment.
Itsik Fefer's song "Di Elter" (Old Age) was also new to us - we knew it only with the melody Chava Alberstein created and recorded with the Klezmatics on the recording "The Well."
Peppler composed a fine original melody for the folk song "Hob Ikh Mir a Mantl" (I Have a Coat) and added a new verse to the song "Gris, Bagris" (Greet, greet) which Lazar Veyner and Leybush Lerer created for Camp Boyberik in the 1920s. She learned the song from Zalmen Mlotek at KlezKamp. Another original composition is "Hilda's Waltz" by the pianist Aviva Enoch - it's the only instrumental piece on the compact disc.
They learned "Don un Donye" (verses by H. Royzenblat, music by Mikhl Gelbart) from the songbook "Pearls of Yiddish Song" by Hannah and Yosl Mlotek. Jane Peppler clearly loves folksongs or art songs like "Don un Donye" which have a folklike character. The duo doesn't, however, avoid theater songs - like Molly Picon's "A Bisl Libe" (A Little Love) by Josef Rumshinski, which comes from the theater production "Tsipke" of 1924. The Milkin Archive contains the song in its collection, sung by a singer with a strong voice and an orchestral accompaniment. Peppler's simpler version also has charm.
The comic folksong "Fraytig oyf der nakht" (Friday night) was very popular in the "old country" and it's a pleasure to hear it with Enokh's piano accompaniment. Peppler's voice rushes a bit too quickly here; her voice is not strong or trained enough for this tempo. It would be better sung more slowly and sweetly. In "Harbstlid" by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, she sings with heart, but also too quickly.
On the other hand, when one hears the prayer "Got fun Avrom", sung without accompaniment, and "Bobenyu," in which she sings more slowly, one feels clearly that the singer doesn't strain and she sings these songs as they should be sung.
The recording concludes with the theater song "Glik" (Luck), Fefer and Yampolski's "Yidishe Khasene" (Jewish wedding), and a Hebrew song, "Ta-am Haman."
Jane Peppler and Aviva Enoch have worked carefully on their arrangements, and the two musicians capably present the songs. One wants to hear them again.
Since the majority of compact discs these days emphasize klezmer music, and not Yiddish songs, it's wonderful to hear a recording like this, which expresses such love of the Yiddish word and song.
Click here to go to the Skylark Productions site and buy the album.