This is but one of many examples of American Jewry’s general attraction to the cultural and aesthetic parameters of Hassidism and Hassidic folklore, not necessarily related to theological considerations or commitments. That there are numerous pieces of precisely the same title by various American composers is itself evidence of the cultural and aesthetic impact of Hassidism upon the American Jewish imagination, even among circles otherwise bordering on hostility to Hassidic orthodoxy. For neither Ellstein nor his intended audience were Hassidic. Nor does a piece such as this purport to represent faithfully an authentic Hassidic dance ritual as enacted within the various sects’ cloistered environments—for those dances, whether joyous or meditative, are deeply religious ceremonies. Rather, the piece captures the general Hassidic dance flavor, within a stylized, even romanticized portrait.
The principal melody, inflected with perceived eastern European folk style, gives Jewish credibility to the piece, but its various modern orchestral gestures and moments of classical development (augmentation, permutation, etc.) raise it to a higher artistic level.
As with other pieces presented here, this Hassidic Dance exhibits a fusion of Hassidic-type (but probably Ellstein’s own) melody on traditional models with unrelated klezmer band clarinet effects and idiomatic nuances. In addition, even this small piece shows us a flash of Ellstein the brilliant orchestrator—as well as the potentially classical composer.
Performers: David Krakauer, Clarinet; Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin; Gerard Schwarz, Conductor
Publisher: EMI Mills Music, Inc
Co-production with DeutschlandRadio and the ROC GmbH-Berlin
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