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
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 España 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?