SUNDAY

Chava Alberstein was only four years old when her family emigrated from Poland to Israel. Her native language was Yiddish, and her first album, recorded at the tender age of seventeen, included four Yiddish songs. Since then, she’s become “the first lady of Israeli song” and performs in Hebrew as well as English, Spanish, and French. Three years ago Alberstein produced a documentary film featuring interviews with 20th-century Yiddish poets, and was inspired by that project to set some of their poems to music. Thus we have The Well (Xenophile), a collaboration between Alberstein and the Klezmatics, who first met at the 1992 Berlin Jewish Festival and had been looking for a suitable project to work on together. The Klezmatics reined in their more avant-garde tendencies to create appropriate instrumental arrangements for Alberstein’s restrained, yet dramatic vocal style. Although the Klezmatics don’t rock out in their usual fashion, The Well includes material ranging from raucous to introspective; the more electric numbers like “Kh’vel Oyston Di Shikh (I’m Going to Take Off My Shoes)” constitute a brilliant Yiddish equivalent of the folk fusion pioneered by English bands like Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span. And on several selections, Alberstein and the Klezmatics’ lead vocalist Lorin Sklamberg harmonize beautifully. Experience authentic contemporary Yiddish culture at 8:00 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20, at Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. NW. $20-45. (301) 608-0111. (Ken Roseman)