When Israeli singer Chava Albertstein decided to set the words of late Yiddish poets to music, she wisely chose to work with the Klezmatics, an American combo renowned for interpreting the music of th

When Israeli singer Chava Albertstein decided to set the words of late Yiddish poets to music, she wisely chose to work with the Klezmatics, an American combo renowned for interpreting the music of the shtetl with a modern sensibility. The result is a stunning collaboration that is reverent but not stuck in the past, heartfelt without seeming schmaltzy or weepy. From the playful freilakh "Velkhes Meydl S'Nemt a Bokher" (Any Girl Who Takes a Boyfriend) to the mournful memoir "Mayn Shvester Khaye" (My Sister Khaye), the Polish-born Albertstein's clear voice brings the poems' emotions to the fore. The Klezmatics' playing, as always, is lively and true to the lyrics; while the arrangements are contemporary, the melodies reflect the lost world the poets describe. Ben Mink's light-handed production sews the package together, melding past and present in elegant fashion.—WH

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