Tsela tseldi 02:21

Liner Notes

The earliest songs recorded here—Shtile tener (1918), Volt mayn tate raykh geven (1918), Dos gold fun dayne oygn (1922), Tsela-tseldi (1922), and Viglid (Markish; 1925)—are perhaps more conventional and less adventurous than the later ones, but they are expertly composed. Volt mayn tate raykh geven and Tsela-tseldi are full of high spirits, with virtuoso piano parts and striking contrasts.


Editor's note by Neil W. Levin:

Lines 10–12 in Weiner’s setting of Tsela-tseldi differ sharply from the original publication of Glatstein’s poem, in which they read instead: di bristn dayne labern, un dayn guf shmekt mit altkayt shoyn, mit dem reyakh fun fardumpn flaysh (Your breasts heave, and from your body emanates the odor of old age, with the stench of decaying flesh). We have not yet found any later or alternative publication of the poem containing Glatstein’s own substitution comprising the words found in Weiner’s song. Still, it is unlikely that Weiner would have undertaken on his own, without the poet’s participation, to rewrite those lines. It is possible that the alteration is contained in an unpublished manuscript version of the poem that might have been available to Weiner, although none has been located; the discrepancy remains a mystery. In any case, the poem has been interpreted as invoking the image of an aging, deteriorating woman as a metaphor for a beleaguered Yiddish language and culture. It has been suggested that Glatstein, through his invented feminine personification, Tsela-tseldi, is challenging Yiddish to forestall aging and death by renewing itself with a measure of denial, even if necessarily temporary—as if asking her to “shed her old flesh and have another fling.”

By: Yehudi Wyner



Poet: Jacob Glatstein (1896–1971)

Tsela-Tseldi, the fleet-footed.
At the sound of the cymbal
You become as swift as a deer,
Nimble as a hare.

Your chestnut head
Is gray now,
Your blue eyes no longer see.
Your moments are slowly withering away.
A deep sadness lies silently within you,
With the stillness of a late autumn.
But Tsela-Tseldi,
At the sound of the cymbal
You become as swift as a deer,
U-ip! Tsela-Tseldi!

Avoid your nightly sighs.
Don’t be frightened by the call of death’s hand.
Whatever mound of earth covers you
At the sound of the cymbal
You become as swift as a deer,

Poet: Jacob Glatstein (1896–1971)

tsum tsimb fun tsimbl,
verstu vi a sarne gring,
vi a hezl flink.

dayn kashtan-kop
iz gro atsind,
di bloe oygn zenen nit,
langzam velkn dayne reges

es shvaygt in dir a tifer troyer,
mit der shtilkayt fun a shpetn harbst;
ober tsela-tseldi,
tsum tsimb fun tsimbl,
verstu vi a sarne gring,
u-ip, tsela-tseldi!

farmayd di ziftsn dayne ale nakht,
zol dos rufn fun der toyter hant dikh nit shrekn.
velkher barg erd ken den dikh fardekn,
az tsum tsimb fun tsimbl
verstu vi a sarne gring,



Composer: Lazar Weiner

Length: 02:21
Genre: Art Song

Performers: Ida Rae Cahana, Mezzo-soprano;  Yehudi Wyner, Piano

Date Recorded: 12/01/2001
Venue: Lefrak Concert Hall/Colden Center for the Arts (E), Flushing, New York
Engineer: Lazarus, Tom
Assistant Engineer: Martyn, Tim

Additional Credits:

Translations and Transliterations: Eliyahu Mishulovin
Preliminary preparations by Adam J. Levitin


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