Sephardic Journey
Traditional Sephardic or Ladino
Ir me kero, Madre, a Yerushalayim [5:26]
Kuando el Rey Nimrod [2:38]
Avinu Malkeinu [3:23]
Lecha Dodi [3:04]
Ah, el Novio no kere dinero! [2:09]
La Rosa enflorese [4:03]
Adio kerida [6:03]
La Komida la Manyana [1:50]
A la una yo nací [3:00]
Ki eshmera Shabbat [4:08]
Taksim (improvisation) [1:02]
Tzur mishelo akhalnu [4:06]
Salamone ROSSI (c.1570-1630)
Sonata in dialogo, detta la Viena [2:25]
Songs of Solomon: Al Naharot Bavel, Psalm 137 [2:40]
Songs of Solomon: Yitgaddal v’yitkaddash [2:52]
Songs of Solomon: Halleluyah, Ashrei Ish, Psalm 112 [2:20]
Sonata sopra la Bergamasca – Sonatas Book IV No.12 [1:57]
Sinfonia settimadecima and Galliarda detta la Zambalina – Sinfonie e Galliarde, Book II [2:55]
Hazeremos una merenda; Kita’l tas [4:12]
La Komida la Manyana [3:17]
Apollos’s Fire/Cleveland Baroque Orchestra/Jeannette Sorrell
rec. February 2015, St Paul’s Church, Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Texts and translations included
AVIE AV2361 [63:42]

The journey of the disc’s title traces the wanderings of Spanish Jews from the time of their expulsion from the country of their birth in 1492. Their travels took them to Italy, Turkey and North Africa and musical interchange was the result, their own traditions mingling with that of their new hosts. The Sephardic musical and liturgical experience is considered in this far ranging and exploratory disc via prayers, love songs in Ladino (their language), wedding songs and also through Italian baroque music: in other words both secular and sacred and much more besides.

The call and response and improvised ornaments of the music longing for Jerusalem [track 1] includes much of choral and instrumental interest and its contrast with the succeeding track’s lusty dance creates in a microcosm a unity of the varying expressive staging posts of experience. Similarly the beautiful melancholy of the setting of La Rosa enflorese reveals, in the ‘pathetic’ violin obbligato, a fusion of words and instrumental finesse that elevates it far beyond the ordinary. Jeannette Sorel’s arrangement may well have had some bearing on that. The farewell song Adio kerida is another very touching example of sometimes anguished parting supported by beautifully balanced vocalism and supporting violin. These traditional Ladino songs are deeply powerful examples of the genre as well as having vivid accompanying passages.

The major composer encountered is Salamone Rossi, violinist at the court of the Duke of Mantua. Though he’s hardly unknown – his trio sonatas have been explored – what emerges forcefully from this recording, which includes many of his works, is his variety, his versatility and his expert absorption of the prevailing Italian styles – both vocally and instrumentally. His sonatas are sophisticated examples of the genre whilst his vocal music, examples here largely being taken from his Song of Solomon, invariably remind one of his contemporary, Monteverdi. Rossi’s opulent Mantuan gifts astound at every turn.

The string instrumentalists and wind players, obviously employing period instruments, are joined by percussionists and continuo instruments – including oud alongside theorbo, as well as the expected harpsichord and dulcimer. The oud vests a strong North African ethos. Each of the singers, too, offers splendid performances. The sound quality, in the lifelike acoustic of St Paul’s Church, Cleveland Heights, is excellent and the sleeve note highly commendable. Indeed Sorrel’s eight-page essay will inform and delight. As does her disc.

Jonathan Woolf

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