The Manawatu Standard gives The Klezmer Rebs rave reviews

Stephen Fisher posted a fabulous review of The Klezmer Rebs playing the Palmerston North City Library in today’s Manawatu Standard:

While we may have become used to the sounds of live music drifting through our city library, it is a long time since we have been treated to such a lively and spirited performance as that which the Klezmer Rebs provided yesterday afternoon.

Undergoing a revival, Klezmer is traditionally celebratory Jewish music, and, although frequently instrumental, vocal lines and song titles are usually in Yiddish. Flexible in its lineup, yesterday’s concert was by seven members of the Klezmer Rebs, who are largely Wellington based.

It was an evocative mix of clarinet, violin, trumpet, trombone and helicon accompanied by piano and guitar or mandolin, giving us a characteristically authentic sound that set one’s primal musical spirit a dancing.

All of the group joined in with vocals as appropriate as they selected much of their programme from the established Klezmer repertoire, their arrangements reflecting traditional style, while allowing the creativity of these talented instrumentalists to add their own distinctive interpretation to the music.

The music celebrates the many facets of life itself and the Klezmer Rebs brought joy and vibrancy to the performance, giving the music a captivating urgency that could not fail to set the heart and soul soaring.

While there was musical excellence on display from all members of the group, the clarinettist was Urs Signeur, who made a significant contribution to local music during his year as an exchange student in Palmerston North nearly 10 years ago. Apart from giving us some stunning clarinet solos, this talented young man also composed several numbers for the group, his work characterised by much inventiveness while still capturing an authentic style.

While it must be expensive for such a large group to travel around the country, I hope it is not too long before the group makes another appearance in our city as it was obvious that the infectious joy of this music captured the hearts of the large audience gathered in the library.

Can it get much better than that?

Breadmaker Challah

175ml Boiling water
150ml Cold water
100ml Canola oil
1 1/2 Tbsp Sugar
2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 Tbsp Yeast
4 Eggs
650g High-grade flour (6 1/2 Cups)
50g Poppy or sesame seeds


Add the boiling water to the cold water, giving 325ml in a large measuring cup.  Stir in the sugar, salt and yeast (use fresh yeast from your local bakery for best results).  Mix well until all of the ingredients are dissolved, and pour into a large breadmaker or mixing pan.  Add the oil.  Very lightly beat three of the eggs, and mix this in as well.  Add the flour, and gently stir for 30 seconds.  If you are using a breadmaker, set it to “dough” and let rip, otherwise knead the mixture by hand in a large mixing bowl for 10 minutes or so.  The resulting dough ball should be just lightly stick to your finger when poked; if not, add more water or flour to obtain the right consistency.

Let the dough rise for an hour or so, and then punch it down.  Let it rise for another hour, punch it down, and remove from breadmaker or mixing bowl.

Preheat the oven to 195° C on “fan bake”.

With well-floured hands, divide into three equal sized balls, roll them into long cylinders, and braid them in situ on a lightly oiled baking sheet.  Allow the braided loaf to rise for 18 minutes.

In a small cup, beat the remaining egg with an equal amount of water.  Paint this egg-wash mixture onto the loaf, and then sprinkle the loaf with poppy or sesame seeds.

Put the loaf into the oven for 18 minutes.

Take the loaf out, re-paint with egg-wash, especially the bits which have expanded and are now not covered with seeds.  Sprinkle more seeds on the loaf.  Put back in the oven for another 18 minutes.

Remove the loaf, allow to cool for at least 18 minutes.