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Among my favorite memories of childhood, listening to holiday albums ranks among the very best. And I would have to say that this one has now been added to my list.

I had no idea what to expect when this CD arrived in the mail. While I'm familiar with klezmer music, I haven't really listened to a lot. (My loss!) I'm also familiar with The Nutcracker. But this . . . is different.

The Golden Dreydl cover

The klezmer music is so alive -- a mixture of instruments not normally associated with classical music: trombone, banjo, piano, drums, and tuba. (Well, perhaps the last three -- but certainly not the banjo!) There are echoes of Tchaikovsky, but there's much more than that. It's rollicking and lively -- as well as very visual. And there's a story, written by Ellen Kushner, combining suspense, magic, myth, adventure -- all the key ingredients required to hold one's interest. The heroine is Sara, a typical little girl who fights with her brother and manages to get in trouble. But she also manages to save a friend. And along the way, she learns some valuable lessons. This is not a retelling of the Nutcracker. Rather, it is fresh, different story, incorporating elements of Jewish mythology and folklore to create something new and enjoyable -- and educational as well. This CD will become a traditional favorite for young and old.

Ellen Kusher is a writer, radio host, and performer. She is host and writer of the weekly series PRI's Sound and Spirit with Ellen Kushner, and her newest novel The Fall of Kings (written with Delia Sherman) has just been released by Bantam Books. Here are Web sites for more information about The Golden Dreydl and for information about upcoming performances.


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Peggi Warner-Lalonde is Senior Music Editor for Strange Horizons.

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