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Hope – Music from Israel and South America for soprano, flute and guitar
Daniel AKIVA (b.1953)
Siniza I Fumo [2:55]; Lunes 15 March 1943 [2:59]; La Galaksia Eskuresida [2:54]; El Milagro de la Lingua [3:27] for soprano, flute and guitar
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1914-1992)
Histoire du Tango for flute and guitar (Bordel 1900 [3:35]; Café 1930 [3:15]; Night-club 1960 [6:03]; Concert d’aujourd’hui [3:15])
Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959)
Distribution of the Flowers for flute and guitar [4:11]
Haim PERMONT (b.1950)
Hope for soprano, flute and guitar (2003) [5:48]; Bagatelle for flute and guitar [3:14]
Daniel AKIVA
Ya Vien El Cativa for soprano and flute [3:55]
Jerusalem de Espańa for flute and guitar: (Cancion [1:11]; Desielda a la Morena [3:37]; Los Jardines de Espańa [1:00]; Meskito [1:41]; Paisages de Espańa [1:59]; Blanco Flor [1:31])
Las Estreyas for soprano, flute and guitar [3:13]
Durme Hermoza Hijoco for soprano, flute and guitar [3:13]
Ronit Widmann-Levy (soprano); Laurel Zucker (flute); Daniel Akiva (guitar)
rec. Skywalker Sound, Marin County, California, USA, 2004
CANTILENA RECORDS 66027-2 [65:41]


This record is one of many instances where the player of a “minority “ instrument has grabbed the bull by the horns and created a record label to pro-actively push forward the repertoire for their instrument. Even where there are compositions for these instruments they are often too rarely heard; so it’s hats off to Laurel Zucker who is one of the prime movers behind Cantilena Records. She is a fine flautist with an exceptional technique combining the utmost precision with the most stunningly beautiful sound. Here she is partnered by Ronit Widmann-Levy, a soprano with a clear and lovely voice with many colours and tight control just where it matters. Completing the trio of artists is guitarist/composer Daniel Akiva whose mellow sound perfectly complements the other two and whose music accounts for about 50% of the disc. The rest is divided between that by Haim Permont, an Israeli of Lithuanian origin and Astor Piazolla and Villa-Lobos. It is the latter two’s music that helps explain the disc’s subtitle: Music from Israel and South America. If at first that seems an unlikely combination then it soon becomes obvious that there are clear connexions between the two. The influences drawn upon by composer Daniel Akiva are those of the Sephardic Jewish tradition and though there are links with the Balkans too the disc has a strong overall feeling of Spain permeating throughout.

All the compositions make powerful cases for themselves and the soloists, and the two Israeli composers are ones to look out for if the music on this record is anything to go by. They make powerful statements about suffering and hope; indeed it is Haim Permont’s 2003 composition HOPE that gives the disc its main title, taking its words from Emily Dickinson’s poem “Hope Is The Thing”. It was especially composed for this recording. Daniel Akiva’s compositions are both robust as well as beautiful and he writes extremely well for the voice; likewise for his chosen instruments. He has successfully adapted the first work on the disc Siniza I Fumo (Ashes and Smoke) from a work for much greater forces. I thought highly of all his music on the record and particularly enjoyed the Jerusalem de Espańa which one could easily mistake for a work by a Spanish or Latin American composer, so strongly are the Spanish ties asserted. Piazzolla’s composition Histoire du Tango for flute and guitar is wonderfully evocative of Buenos Aires from the turn of the 19th century to today. Villa-Lobos’s Distribution of the flowers is a joy, as is everything of his I’ve ever heard.

I really enjoyed this disc and can be sure that I’ll be playing it often and what greater compliment can one give?

Steve Arloff





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