Arts: EDINBURGH FESTIVAL '99: Fringe: Music
Orient Express Moving Shnorers
Wednesday 18 August 1999
Beck's Famous Spiegeltent, Venue 87 (0131-558 8010), various times, to 30 Aug
Klezmer, the traditional Jewish music of Central and Eastern Europe, is a sound positively brimming with hybrid vigour. Middle-Eastern strains jostle with Slavic and Balkan folk idioms, while emigration to the US introduced it to jazz. The unlikely moniker sported by this eight-piece French outfit is intended partly to evoke that diasporan character. "Shnorers" were the professional beggar-philosophers who once peddled gossip and jokes from shtetl to shtetl; these modern-day counterparts substitute the occasional telling, in wonderfully broken English, of tales so tall they could dent the ceiling.
Music's their main game, however. A line-up dominated by brass and woodwind, together with violin, piano, bass and drums, delivered a heady cocktail of wedding and circle-dance tunes, extravagant celebratory capers, broken- hearted laments and sophisticated jazz workouts. An abundance of playfully flamboyant showmanship completed a superbly winning package.
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