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David STOCK (b. 1939)
A Little Miracle (1997) [30:03]
Yizkor (1999) [10:04]
Tekiah (1987) [19:19]
Y'rusha (1986) [16:28]
Elizabeth Shammash (mezzo)
Rundfunk Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin/Gerard Schwarz (Miracle).
Seattle Symphony Orchestra/Gerard Schwarz (Yizkor);
Stephen Burns (trumpet); Richard Stoltzman (clarinet) Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble/David Stock (Tekiah, Y'rusha)
rec. Jesus Christus Kirche, Berlin, Apr 2000, Oct 2001 (Miracle); Benaroya Hall, Seattle, May 1999 (Yizkor); Levy Hall, Rodef Shalom Temple, Pittsburgh, 27 Feb 1992 (Tekiah); 10 Aug 1992 (Y'rusha). DDD 
NAXOS MILKEN SERIES 8.559422 [76:23]

David Stock, Pittsburgh born, studied trumpet and composition with Nikolai Lopatnikoff and Alexei Haieff. Stock has had residencies with the orchestras at Seattle and Pittsburgh. Among much else there is a violin concerto for Pittsburgh as well as five symphonies and six string quartets. Manny Theiner's description of Stock's music as experienced here is pretty adroit: 'well-defined, with clear shapes, driving rhythms, and bright colors and themes'.
A Little Miracle recalls Canadian composer Oscar Morawetz’s The Diary of Anne Frank. The story recounted is of the birth of the 'singer' amid the Polish anti-jewry pogroms of the Nazis. The work is sung in English but at 4:02 we get a  lullaby in Yiddish which recalls operetta sentimentality. Loosely the style is fixed between the points described by an arc touching on Barber's Knoxville and Vanessa and Sondheim's Passion. There is some speech at A sink a table a chair (7:02) and again at I can live with a broken heart but I cannot sing with one  (8.47) and Rosa could use that blanket (14:12). It is mostly in English but there is Hebrew and Yiddish as well. The couple, Tova and Yaakov, remain in the ghetto. Yaakov is killed (bursts of side drum impacts) and Tova and their daughter take refuge with the partisans sustained by the lullaby from earlier in the piece. Their dangerous refuge is described by the eerie high harmonics of the violins. The sole criticism I have is that this recording is in a single track when it could more digestibly have been separated into its constituent prologue, epilogue and six scenes.  The piece ends in a miraculously rounded way with the words A little Miracle.
Yizkor (May He Remember) is a ten minute elegy for string orchestra. It is ripely emotional music adapted from the second movement of Stock's Fourth Quartet. In its searching high-whistling poignancy it recalls Shostakovich and even Pettersson.
Tekiah is in three movements and is for trumpet solo and chamber orchestra. The title means 'sounding'. The word has a specific meaning referring to the playing of the shofar on Rosh Hashana. Over various Reich-like minimalist chip, chatter and chug, the trumpet urgently repeats a cascading note-cell and rolls a coruscation of virtuosity.  The squeal and piping of the trumpet weaves with the pointillist treatment of the orchestra in another of those inventive minimalist skeins full of vitality and propulsive cells. The finale starts with an affectionate quote from the Haydn trumpet concerto and ends with some rather Stravinskian buzzing energy and a final blunt trumpet flourish.
Y'rusha is the Hebrew for inheritance. It's a piece for clarinet and an ensemble of seven instruments including percussion. It's a thing of scraps and shards from raspberry Klezmer, to Yiddish sentimental theater songs to Weill-like braggartry to squeaking soliloquies. The work comes over as an amalgam of elements, a scrapbook of musical signatures bound by a sometimes avant-garde 'cement'. It's the most extreme of the pieces represented here.
Yet another fascinating perspective on Jewish music in America. Will Naxos and the Milken archive really stop when they reach the fiftieth disc?

Rob Barnett


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