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Introducing the World of American Jewish Music
Featuring music from current and future Milken Archive releases

Dave BRUBECK Gates of Justice, IIIa (excerpt)
Leonard BERNSTEIN Hashkiveinu
ANONYMOUS Hudl Mitn Shtrudl
Darius MILHAUD Etudes on Liturgical Themes, III
Julius CHAJES Old Jerusalem
Paul SCHOENFIELD Viola Concerto, III
Israel SCHORR Sheyibbaneh Beit Hamikdash
Joseph ACHRON The Golem, IV
Abraham KAPLAN Psalms of Abraham, VII
Ernst TOCH The Bitter Herbs op. 65, VII
Joshua LIND El Melekh Yoshev
Yehudi WYNER The Mirror, I
Darius MILHAUD Service Sacré, I
Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO Genesis Suite-The Flood (excerpt)
Robert STERN Adon Olam
Bruce Adolphe LADINO Songs of Love and Suffering, IV
Sholom KALIB and Meyer MACHTENBERG Arr. Simon SPIRO Sheva B'rakhot (excerpt)
Joseph RUMSHINSKY Mayn Goldele
Kurt WEILL The Eternal Road, scene 20
Performers: BBC Singers, Dave Brubeck Trio, Czech Philharmonic, Tovah Feldshuh, Eliot Fisk, Juilliard String Quartet, David Krakauer, Yoel Levi, Ana María Martínez, Cantor Benzion Miller, Cantor Alberto Mizrahi, Elmar Oliveira, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Gerard Schwarz, Cantor Simon Spiro, Richard Stoltzman, Robert Vernon, Vienna Boys Choir, Fritz Weaver, and many others.
To see full details of the series please look at

This sampler draws tracks from the CDs issued as part of the Milken Archive initiative. The propulsive and dynamic Brubeck is powered along at full tilt crossed with a typically swaying Jewish accent. The Bernstein is more intently devotional - the other side of the coin. The down and dirty Hudl mitn shtrudl is the equivalent of a racy song by George Formby - saucy and with a clarinet played scatty Chassidic for all it is worth as slippery as oil. Not such a great step away is the Berber accented wildness of Wyner’s The Mirror. This contrasts with Milhaud’s grave solo violin-led Etudes on Liturgical Themes. Milhaud appears again with an extract from his Sacred Service - this is more joyous but controlled and somehow distant from a full surrender to the passions. The piece by Schorr for cantor and orchestra is similarly devout. Chajes' Old Jerusalem (for alto and orchestra) is more closely related to the devout Bernstein track and to the collection of Jewish songs recorded years ago by Netania Davrath (Vanguard). The same can be said of the Ernst Toch track in which the solo singer is clearly under too much strain. The Chajes song and the Rumshinsky seem to take us into an echt Wienerisch musical tradition - Lehár meets Kurt Weill - a gem of a duet. The darker devotions of the Lind track also reflect the prayerful stream of music-making as does the Kalib song (tr.17). Schoenfield’s concertos have been recorded before but not the Viola Concerto which at first is not as obviously Jewish as some of the other music here. Soon however it gratefully assumes the mantle of a Jewish celebration. The Achron I have already written about when reviewing the complete Achron disc - it is music of the utmost inventive resource - full of colourful technicolor rivalry among the instruments of the orchestra. Kaplan’s Psalms of Abraham in unison singing for young people has a simple line which at least superficially relates to the writing of Carl Orff in its unadorned iterative insistence. The Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Genesis has a Hollywoodian temperament with the voice of the orator drifting between that of Charlton Heston and Walter Cronkite. A female voice is accompanied by Californian-serene string writing. A Biblical epic in sound. Robert Stern breaks free from previous conventions with its crystal shiver-clear singing for female voices - with only the slight twist in the tune proclaiming the Jewish heritage. Bruce Adolphe’s Ladino Songs could easily suit Ute Lemper in its darkly occluded mood. The last track is an excerpt from Weill’s The Eternal Road in whispered serenity from the choir and a pianissimo solo violin rise to the disturbing suggestion of disillusion. Serenity reflects the God of the Israelites while the wilder beat reflects the followers of the golden calf. Eventually the joyous ‘calf tune’ is taken over by the Israelites to reflect an excited joy.
Rob Barnett


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Great Songs of the Yiddish Stage - Volume 1: Abraham ELLSTEIN (1907-1963) and Other Songwriters of His Circle
ELLSTEIN Der Nayer Sher (1940)
Simon Spiro, tenor
ELLSTEIN Oygn (1934)
Elizabeth Shammash, mezzo-soprano
ELLSTEIN Ikh Vil Es Hern Nokh Amol (1946)
Amy Goldstein, soprano
Simon Spiro, tenor
ELLSTEIN Ikh Zing (1939)
Robert Bloch, tenor
ELLSTEIN Abi Gezunt (1939)
Amy Goldstein, soprano
ELLSTEIN Zog Es Mir Nokh Amol* (1931)
Bruce Adler, tenor
Abraham SCHWARTZ (1881-1963) Di Grine Kuzine (1921)
Joanne Borts, mezzo-soprano
David MEYEROWITZ (1867-1943) Vos Geven Iz Geven Un Nito (1926)
Simon Spiro, tenor
ELLSTEIN Oy Mame, Bin Ikh Farlibt (1936)
Elizabeth Shammash, mezzo-soprano
Ilia TRILLING (1895-1947) Zog, Zog, Zog Es Mir (1942)
Nell Snaidas, soprano
YABLOKOFF (1903-1981) Der Dishvasher (1936)
Robert Abelson, baritone
TRILLING Du Shaynst Vi Di Zun (1941)
Nell Snaidas, soprano
Robert Bloch, tenor
ELLSTEIN Vos Iz Gevorn Fun Mayn Shtetele?
Benzion Miller, tenor
Mazl (Ellstein)
Elizabeth Shammash, mezzo-soprano
Reuben DOCTOR (c.1880-1940) Ikh Bin A "Boarder" Bay Mayn Vayb (1922)
Bruce Adler, tenor
ELLSTEIN Der Alter Tsigayner (1938)
Simon Spiro, tenor
Vienna Chamber Orchestra
*Barcelona Symphony/National Orchestra of Catalonia/Elli Jaffe
To see full details of the series please look at

Sheer delight! Adherents of music theatre must hear this glorious revival of music from a little known milieu. American Yiddish musical theatre flourished among the Jewish immigrant population and beyond during the period 1920-1949. While full orchestrations have in many cases disappeared or never existed the music has survived in fragmentary form. Full scores and parts have been reconstructed with every appearance of authenticity and loving care. In some cases the work has been done by reference to 78s and early LPs - much the same route has been taken by Morgan and Stromberg to revive lost film scores. Here six composers are showcased in a series of showstoppers from Lower Manhattan (Second Avenue) New York operetta.

These songs are saucy, smiling, swooning, sexy, sentimental and yes schmaltzy. Stylistic streams flow freely ... interacting with each other. Weimar decadence, Viennese operetta voices of Lehár and Robert Stolz, Klezmer, folk song, Brahmsian lullaby they collide, inter-breed and metamorphose. The music also reminds us that the early shows of Stephen Sondheim owed not a little to this genre. Try listening to A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Circus after hearing this disc.

In Ikh Zing (tr.4) which I have played at least fifteen times already for sheer pleasure, Robert Bloch knows how to use that yearning slightly nasal tone of voice so ringingly close to Dermota and Wunderlich. If Classic FM do not pick up this track they lack their much-vaunted ear for a winner. This song is a sure-fire recipe for goose-flesh and the prickle of hairs on the back of the neck.

Klezmer woodwind in Abi Gezunt and in Zog Es Mir Nokh Amol clarinet wheezes and wheedles. In fact the VCO’s clarinet deserves some sort of special award for getting his instrument to act, laugh, chuckle, caper and leer. Voz Geven - starts tense with gypsy paprika soon gives way to Straussian Danube an insinuating waltz. Zigeuner meets Klezmer in the hushed tension of the start of Oy Mame - however it is only a scene-setting foreword - this is really about a ducking and diving, swaying and sliding main section complete with the consummately idiomatic VCO clarinet. A supremely sweetened Brahmsian orchestration (think Hungarian Dances) crowns Nell Snaidas’s triumphantly lilting Zog Zog Zog Es Mir and the same flavour comes across in Mazl. The tragedy of Der Dishvasher presents a strain on Robert Abelson’s baritone which asks a lot when Abelson is asked to slip and curve the melodic line sauntering along the muezzin sway. Abelson nicely handles the few words of speech crowning the sad song of pride lost in squalor. The oily suggestive humour of Ikh bin a Boarder is slyly done by Bruce Adler - yipping and crooning - a tour de force of character singing. This is an all or nothing performance. The only reaction is Wow! Cimbalom underpins the gypsy haze in Der Alte Tsigayner. Campfire smoke gets in the eyes and at the back of the throat all to set up a wilder friss section with oompah brass, cantabile violin line - part Weimar part Budapest. These composers may have been Schmalz.

Recording is of the very best. Orchestra and singers have been extremely well chosen. It is divisive to choose but choose I will. Robert Bloch and Nell Snaidas are my current favourites.

The words are given in English only so there’s no chance to sing along - and believe me you want to. You can however get hold of the transliterated Yiddish and translations at:

This well documented and superbly recorded winner opens a door onto a piteously neglected area of the repertoire. If this is anything to go by this CD (and its successor will spell) the sort of revival symphonic film music made during the 1970s and Broadway shows made during the 1980s. We must hope for some complete score recordings as well.
Rob Barnett


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Klezmer Concertos and Encores
Robert STARER (1924-2001)
K'li Zemer

David Krakauer, clarinet and bass-clarinet
Barcelona Symphony/National Orchestra of Catalonia/Gerard Schwarz
Paul SCHOENFIELD (b. 1947)
Klezmer Rondos

Scott Goff, flute
Alberto Mizrahi, tenor
Seattle Symphony Orchestra/Gerard Schwarz
Jacob WEINBERG (1879-1956)

The Maypole; Canzonetta
David Krakauer, clarinet
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin/Gerard Schwarz
Co-production with Deutschland Radio and the ROC GmbH-Berlin
Abraham ELLSTEIN (1907-1963)
Hassidic Dance

David Krakauer, clarinet
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin/Gerard Schwarz
(Co-production with Deutschland Radio and the ROC GmbH-Berlin)
Osvaldo GOLIJOV (b. 1960)

David Krakauer, clarinet
Alicia Svigals, violin
Martha Mooke, electric viola
Pablo Aslan, contrabass
To see full details of the series please look at

K'li zemer means "instrument of song" in Hebrew. A traditional klezmer was an wedding musician who played an important role at these events and at other festive occasions in Jewish life.

The Starer has the lonely clarinet of Robert Krakauer musing in loneliness the temperature gradually rising. Strings slither and smoke and dream romantically ((3.11, tr. 1) in the prayers movement. That romantic dream, returns in serenity for the third movement Melodies where the clarinet plumbs the depths of its range. The Dances movement tramps wildly with a jazzy propulsion and a hairy cackling wildness to the solo clarinet line. The same full tilt feral impetus drives the Dedication finale. Affirmatively stomping melodrama ends the movement in an explosive statement. It dates from 1988.

Schoenfield’s two Klezmer Rondos for flute, tenor and orchestra (1989 rev. 1995) were written for flautist Carol Wincenc. The first is uproariously oily sometimes sounding similar to Weill. The second is cool, confiding, intimate and rising to a wailing clarinet accompanied bolero at 5.01 and then onwards to a dizzy csardas. Sousa bowls into the picture for a few minutes before bowling out. This is some of the most ethnic music on the disc. The appearance of a very accomplished tenor singing the Yiddish song Mirele works very well.

Weinberg’s two encore pieces are wildly hyper-active in the case of The Maypole while the Canzonetta is suave and tender. Ellstein’s Hassidic Dance adopts a dignified gait punctuated with some hairily virtuosic Yiddish elements along the way. Golijov’s Rocketekya has a predominance of jazz influence sorting its way through the by now familiar dizzy and confidently feral clarinet line. The composer’s notes place the sounds of the shofar (the Jewish instrument used by Elgar in his The Apostles) in a rocket. The electric viola adds a synthetic electronic burble. There is one moment at 4.01 where the wind instrument is left alone to play as if distantly but with what sounds like a crackling 78 shellac background.

David Krakauer plays to the manner born as well he might as one of the world’s leading advocates of Klezmer.

The notes are very full, as is the standard for this densely documented series. Sung words are given in English translation - never in the original sung language unless it happens to be English! The notes themselves are only in English.
Rob Barnett


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Kurt WEILL (1900-1950): The Eternal Road (Highlights)
Play by Franz Werfel, English translation by Ludwig Lewisohn - Sung in English
From Act I: "The Patriarchs": Scene 6: Abraham and Isaac; Scene 7: Jacob and the Angel; Scene 8: Jacob and Rachel; Scene 16: The death of Jacob
From Act II: "Moses": Scene 17: In Egypt/Miriam and Moses; Scene 20: Moses receives the Commandments/Dance around the golden calf; Scene 21: The Beam, Moses; Scene 22: Moses addresses the people; Scene 23: Moses gives the Commandments/The death of Moses
From Act III: "The King": Scene 24: Naomi and Ruth; Ruth and Boaz
From Act IV: "The Prophets": Scene 32: Isaiah and Jeremiah; Scene 33: The streets of Jerusalem; Scene 34: Jeremiah; Scenes 35 and 36: Chananiah the false prophet/the mob attacks Jeremiah; Scene 40: Transformation/Finale
Constance Hauman, soprano
Barbara Rearick, mezzo-soprano
Hanna Wollschläger, mezzo-soprano
Ian DeNolfo, tenor
Karl Dent, tenor
Vale Rideout, tenor
Ted Christopher, baritone
James Maddalena, baritone
Rundfunk-Kinderchor Berlin/Manfred Roost
Ernst Senff Chor/Sigurd Brauns
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin/Gerard Schwarz
To see full details of the series please look at

This is the world premiere recording of scenes from Kurt Weill's rediscovered oratorio-style The Eternal Road. Seemingly it created a sensation during the 1937 New York season after which it largely slipped from sight.

The style seems almost completely alien to what we usually expect from Weill. There is little of the distinctively Jewish ethnic sound heard in most of the other Milken volumes. An exception can be heard in the wickedly worldly catchiness of the Chananiah track from Act 4 (tr. 15). It is instead in an idiom that is romanticised big-band Handelian. It would fit like a custom-made glove in a Three Choirs festival season. The storyline is Biblical and is very ambitious spanning the prophets and other Old Testament figures: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rachel, Miriam, Moses, Naomi, Ruth, Boaz, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Chananiah.

Overall this work is thoroughly English or Anglo-Saxon in its aural ‘signature’. It takes little imagination to see this as ‘bread and butter’ repertoire to Sargent, Goossens or Beecham. It is gratefully singable even if the words are not always a perfect fit to the melody’s phrasing. It is gratefully sung by a roll-call of singers many of whom who would make a fine line-up for Handel’s Messiah or Mendelssohn’s Elijah or St. Paul. This calling is blended with Brahmsian romance, Verdian sentiment and a flaming operatic volatility (try the My Idols track - tr. 13). Tracks 3 and 7 include some spoken passages seamlessly woven into the picture. There are many sweetly comforting passages including the start of Moses receives the commandments (tr. 6) where the solo violin weaves its nectar around the introspective musings of the choir. The same track also includes completely unHandelian music of dynamic and driving fervour blasted to silence by a slammed impact on the tam-tam. Just once in Naomi and Ruth I caught a momentary shadow of the Weill of racy Weimar disillusion in the pattering accompaniment and the sung melodic line. Is Ruth going to turn from the alien corn and launch into Surabaya Johnny? The mournful Isaiah and Jeremiah (tr. 12) occasionally echoes Tippett’s Child of our Time.

I understand that all of this sounds scarcely credible but I can assure you that I am faithfully relaying my impressions to you. It may perhaps be counted in the company of other fine but neglected Biblical-themed choral festival works from the 1930s and 1940s: Cecil Effinger’s Paul of Tarsus, Randall Thompson’s Testament of Freedom, Nathaniel Dett’s The Ordering of Moses. Across the Atlantic we find somewhat similar works in the shape of Havergal Brian’s Symphony No. 4 Siegeslied (1933), and much later Maurice Jacobson’s The Hound of Heaven (1954). It ends in Aida-like magnificence with horns ringing out in a Shofar-blaze of magnificence.

A surprising and very agreeable discovery. If you like the works I have mentioned as reference-parallels you should hear this urgently. Such a pity that the whole work could not have been recorded. I hope that opportunities will now be made for the revival of other pageant works from this composer: We Will Never Die (1943) and A Flag is Born (1946). If so perhaps not far behind will be a revival of Alan Bush’s secular flag-waving works of the 1930s and 1940s. Altogether a fascinating experience.
Rob Barnett


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Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990): A Jewish Legacy
Israelite Chorus; Invocation and Trance (from Dybbuk); Psalm 148; Reenah; Three Wedding Dances; The First Waltz (Canon); Cha-cha-cha; Hora; Yevarechecha; Halil; Simchu Na; Oif Mayn Khas'ne; Vayomer Elohim; Yigdal; Four Sabras; Ilana, the Dreamer; Idele, the Chassidele; Yosi, the Jokester; Dina, the Tomboy Who Weeps Alone; Silhouette (Galilee); Hashkiveinu
BBC Singers; Rochester Singers/Samuel Adler; Jean Barr, piano; Hans Peter Blochwitz, tenor; Christopher Bowers-Broadbent, organ; Bonita Boyd, flute; Jack Gottlieb, piano; Patrick Gnage, baritone; Avner Itai, conductor; Aaron Miller, organ; Angelina Réaux, mezzo-soprano; Jason Smith, bass baritone; Barry Snyder, piano; Michael Sokol, baritone; Cantor Howard Stahl.
To see full details of the series please look at

On the evidence of this collection there was a wide and various vista of answers to Bernstein’s self-questioning: "What are the Jewish roots I long for?".

This shortish collection of short pieces and groups of short pieces encompasses a bewildering but usually enjoyable and sometimes provocative range of responses. Bernstein runs the gamut from shofar-announced defiance through to delicate Bartók-style dances. Psalm 148 is a song for piano and soprano where the piano foreword quotes from Tannhauser and where the song slides easily between Grieg and drawing room Victoriana. The Reenah and Israelite Chorus use flute, trumpet, harp and a range of percussion. Reenah’s chorus is touched with playground rhythmic games of the sort relished by Carl Orff but with a Stravinskian Pulcinella accent. The hammer pecking Orff choral style is also unmistakable in Simchu Na; even the choir and piano ensemble specification matches. The Three Wedding Dances for solo piano are playful microscopic pieces - all three less than a minute individually. The final Hora has a catchy Bartókian rhythmic bark. Halil in this case is for flute and chamber ensemble. It is querulous, not specially ethnic in sound, rather recalling in many defiant passages the Nielsen Flute Concerto which Bernstein had recorded for CBS with Julius Baker. At other times (2:32) the flute limns a luscious melody apparently escaped from one of Bernstein’s music theater pieces. However in Oif Mayn Khas’ne, for a Pierrot piano and tenor, the drifting tonality takes us very close to Schoenberg. Vayoner Elohim is amongst the most Jewishly ethnic of the pieces with its swaying vocal line peppered up by a Schoenbergian piano. The Yigdal is for chorus, flute, horn and harp. At times this sounds remarkably like Holst’s Rig Veda hymns. The Four Sabras are for solo piano - here the skilled and sensitive pianist is Jack Gottlieb who also wrote the encyclopedic liner-notes. The material of these pieces delicately shades atonality into the romance of West Side Story (Ilana), encompasses shattered rhythmic impetus, as well as an feint towards a Beethovenian heroism (Dina). Silhouette, a charming character song for piano and soprano, trots along with a return to the melisma and disarming acting. The disc ends with the Hashkiveinu - a crashing call to attention from the organ is followed by an eclectic mix of choral singing from Stravinskian clamour to Vaughan Williams style polyphony. It was written in 1945 and here receives its premiere recording.

Bernstein shows himself an eclectic musician. Much that is here is musically stimulating, succinct and inspirational. I would expect this disc to gain a major following especially amongst the many who are enthusiasts of Bernstein as composer.
Rob Barnett


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Jewish Voices in the New World: Chants and Prayers from the American Colonial Era
Barukh Habba (Psalm 118:26-29); Shira Hadasha (Morning liturgy); Chants and Elegies for Tisha B'av ; From the Evening Kinot; Eikha-Book of Lamentations excerpt: 2:1-5; Aleikhem Eda K'dosha; Al Heikhali Ev'ke; From the Morning Kinot; Eikha Tzon Haharega; G'rushim; Ev'ke V'al Shod Z'vulai; Heikhal Adonai; Bore Ad Ana; Shirat Hayyam-Exodus 14:26-31; 15:1-10; Ahot K'tanna (Rosh Hashana morning); Aseret Haddibb'rot-Exodus 20:2-17; Haftarat Vayikra-excerpt; Preliminary Benediction; Isaiah 43:21-26; Et Sha'arei Ratzon (Rosh Hashana morning); Haftarat T'tzave-excerpt: Ezekiel 43:10-15; Shabbat-From the Kabbalat Shabbat; (Welcoming the Sabbath) and Sabbath evening liturgy; Mizmor l'David (psalm 29); Mizmor shir l'yom hashabbat-tov l'hodot (psalm 92); Hashkivenu; Kaddish shalem; Torah Reading: Parashat Emor (excerpts); Leviticus 22:26-33; Leviticus 23:33-44; Ein Keloheinu (High Holy Day melody); Hazzan Ira Rohde
Schola Hebraeica/Neil Levin
Donald Barnum, chorusmaster
Jonathan Fluker, choral preparation
To see full details of the series please look at

We are told that this CD ‘offers a rare and fascinating collection of synagogue melodies and biblical chants as they were sung in the early American Colonial period, throughout the Revolutionary War, and up through the early years of the new republic.’

Neil Levin, who is also the conductor, provides a learned but engaging commentary. These pieces often juxtapose the leading solo role of the cantor with the congregational voice of the choir. Hazzan Ira Rohde is the cantor whose fluid and fast-moving style keeps things dynamic. His voice is slightly nasal but very appealing. Only in Aseret (tr. 13) did I notice the voice coming under great strain. Many of these tracks are touched with a North African or a Spanish wand but one occasionally discerns a British (Holst) and French (Canteloube) folk-song influence. The sound of the choir (usually men only) is very strong and rounded. This choir is clearly very adept at subtle colouring and dynamic contouring. Similar accomplishments are shown by the children’s choir.

Mr Levin reminds us that the imported traditions that flourished in "New Amsterdam" (later New York) were Sephardic in origin. We are told that these pieces continue to enjoy an active life in America's oldest synagogues, Shearith Israel, established in 1654, and Mikve Israel, founded in 1782.
Sincere and unassuming music sensitively performed.
Rob Barnett


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A Hanukka Celebration
Raymond GOLDSTEIN (b. 1953)
based on melodies by Joshua LIND (1890-1973); Solomon ANCIS (1873-1945); and Zeidl ROVNER (1856-1943)
B'rakhot L'hanukka

Cantor Simon Spiro
Coro Hebraeico/Neil Levin
Hugo ADLER (1894-1955)
Hannerot Hallalu

Carolina Chamber Chorale/Tim Koch
Zhou Jin, piano
Aaron MILLER (1911-2000)
Ma'oz Tzur

Arrangement: Neil Levin
Cantor Benzion Miller
Abba Bogin, piano
Samuel ADLER (b. 1928)
To Celebrate a Miracle

University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Wind Symphony/Rodney Winther
Leo LOW (1878-1960)

arr. Larry Moore

Coro Hebraeico/Neil Levin
Zavel ZILBERTS (1881-1949)
Di Khanike Likht

Cantor Benzion Miller
Abba Bogin, piano
Herbert FROMM (1905-1995)
Hanukka Madrigal (Mi y'mallel?)

Rochester Singers/Samuel Adler
Samuel ADLER (b. 1928)
The Flames of Freedom

New London Children's Choir/Ronald Corp
Solomon ANCIS (1873-1945)
Mizmor Shir Hanukkat Habbayit

Cantor Benzion Miller
Schola Hebraeica/Neil Levin
Judith SHATIN (b. 1949)
Nun, Gimel, Hei, Shin

New London Children's Choir/Ronald Corp
Alexander OLSHANETSKY (1892-1944)
Adonai Z/kharanu

Arrangement: Neil Levin
Cantor Moshe Haschel
New London Children's Choir; Schola Hebraeica/Neil Levin
Michael ISAACSON (b. 1946)
Aspects of a Great Miracle

Southern Chorale, University of Southern Mississippi/Tim Koch
To see full details of the series please look at

Hanukka (also known as the Festival of Dedication) is celebrated by Jews to commemorate the Maccabean victory in 165 B.C.E. over the Greco-Syrians. Their religious freedom was at stake. The Festival marks the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem and the legend of the miraculous eight-day life of the light in the candelabrum.

Raymond Goldstein’s B'rakhot L'hanukka has the style of the best Scandinavian tradition admixing the romance of The Bluebird (Stanford). The writing for choir and cantor soon gives place to a piece for chorus and piano from Hugo Adler. The Miller piece sounds positively Russian - heroic and darting along. Then comes Samuel Adler’s To Celebrate a Miracle, a bright purely orchestral fantasy with a really Christmas ‘signature’ rather like the seasonal pieces by Geoffrey Bush and David Cox. At 13:36 this is the longest piece on the disc. Judith Shatin’s Nun, Gimel, Hei, Shin gradually accelerates the tempo to a welter of notes and then relaxes. Samuel Adler’s The Flames of Freedom is an eight song sequence which includes writing for a jewelled piano and female chorus. This is often dreamy reverential, glittering - the piano often high in its starry upper registers and accommodating more dissonance than we are used to. The women’s voices take the high ground in the smoothly singable Likhtelekh by Leo Low.

Traditional Hanukka songs both favourites, familiar over the years, as well as new works adding fresh life to an ages-old tradition.
Rob Barnett


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Darius MILHAUD (1892-1974)
Service Sacré, pour le samedi matin-Sabbath Morning Service (1947) avec prières additionelles pour le vendredi soir (with additional prayers for Friday evening) (1949-1950)
Yaron Windmueller, baritone
Rabbi Rodney Mariner, reader
Prague Philharmonic Chorus
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Gerard Schwarz
To see full details of the series please look at

Mme Madeleine Milhaud, the widow of Darius Milhaud, said of Milhaud’s Service Sacré that "It is a work of love, it is the voice of a creature communicating with his God ... I hear that when I hear the Service Sacré".

Milhaud was born in Marseilles. He was widely travelled and spent time in London and Brazil amongst many other places. In the L’kha Dodi of the Service Sacré, written many years afterwards, one can hear the influence of Rio’s street festivals. The surrender by France to the Nazis in 1940 saw Milhaud depart France and move to the USA. There he spent his last 34 years prolifically productive to the last. His final work was Ani Maamin, premiered at the Carnegie Hall in 1975 by the Brooklyn Phil and other forces including the soprano Roberta Peters all conducted by Lukas Foss.

This Naxos CD is the premiere recording of the complete version of the Service Sacré. Naxos have done well by Milhaud’s memory and the generation of listeners who will now be able to hear this estimable devotional work. The vocal parts, especially the solo here sung by Yaron Windmueller, are more touched with Jewish ethnic accents than the orchestral line; take the Va’anahnu (tr. 16) as an example. The orchestral style is a sort of mélange of Copland (tonal), Roy Harris (listen to Mi Khamokha at tr. 4 and tr. 23), Vaughan Williams (Dona Nobis Pacem), Tippett (A Child of Our Time) and Randall Thompson. It is not tough but neither is it bland. The Vaughan Williams ‘edge’ can be heard in the barbaric splendour of S’u Sh’arim, the athletic healthy brusqueness of Returning the Scroll to the Ark and the dancing restfulness of K’dusha. Must be coincidence but the explosive version of Mi Khamokha at tr. 23 sounds astonishingly similar to the colossal tectonic upheavals of the Icelandic composer Jón Leifs. At tr. 26 the folk magnificence of the little march gesture points surely towards French pastorals in the composer’s native Provence and further afield to Joseph Canteloube’s Auvergne.

Rabbi Rodney Mariner has an appealing and plaintively reassuring voice in the spoken Kaddish (tr. 18), Prayer and Response (tr. 8) and The Law of the Lord is Perfect (tr. 13). The orchestration around him is perfectly judged by Milhaud and by the Naxos engineers.

This is a work which has the facility to grip your affections. Of course there is at least one other Sacred Service. Bloch’s Avodath Hakodesh is certainly more exotically flavoured but in the various performances I have heard (the composer’s and the one recorded in the late 1970s by Chandos) strikes me as hard-going and not consistently inspired. By contrast Milhaud’s Service Sacré is singable, speaks directly and accessibly to all and is memorable. I wonder whether the proximity of the end of the Second World War also added intensity.

This is very cleanly and athletically recorded ... producing an open impression. The artists are excellent. This should do very well. I happily recommend this disc of a major devotional work.

The Sacred Service is presented with the settings for the Friday evening liturgy, which were composed after the work's commission and premiere at Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco.
Rob Barnett

see also
Joseph ACHRON (1886-1943) Violin Concerto no. 1, Op. 60 Elmar Oliveira, violin Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin*/Joseph Silverstein Rec. Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin July 1998. DDD Co-production with Deutschland Radio and the ROC GmbH-Berlin The Golem (Suite): Creation of the Golem; The Golem's Rampage; The Fatigued Wanderer (Lullaby); Dance of the Phantom Spirits; Petrifying of the Golem Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Gerard Schwarz Rec. Rudolfinum, Prague, Czech Republic, Sept 2000. DDD Two Tableaux from the Theatre Music to Belshazzar Barcelona Symphony/National Orchestra of Catalonia/Gerard Schwarz Rec. Centre Cultural de Sant Cugat, Barcelona, Spain. Jan 2000. DDD world premiere recordings NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559408 [65:28] [RB]

It is a real pleasure to hear Achron’s music beyond the clutch of violin solos. He is much more than a pyrotechnician for violin aspirants. ... see Full Review


Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895-1968) Naomi and Ruth, Op. 27 Ana María Martínez, soprano Academy and Chorus of St. Martin-in-the-Fields/Sir Neville Marriner Sacred Service for the Sabbath Eve, Op. 122 Ted Christopher, baritone Jeremy Cohen, tenor Rabbi Rodney Mariner, speaker Hugh Potton, organ The London Chorus/Ronald Corp Prayers My Grandfather Wrote (excerpts) Barbara Harbach, organ Memorial Service for the Departed (excerpts) Cantor Simon Spiro, tenor McNeil Robinson, organ New York Cantorial Choir/Neil Levin Rec. no dates given. 2000s? DDD NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559404 [69:40] [RB]

Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s musical sincerity and integrity shines through untarnished by Hollywood’s allure and materialism. ... see Full Review

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