Monday, December 7, 2015

Esquissess Hébraïques: Clarinet Quintets on Jewish Themes - Gurowitsch, Kol Nidrej - J. Weinberg, Quintet - Gardner, Hebrew Fantasy - Gorodezky, Jewish Rhapsody - Krein, Esquissess Hébraïques - Secunda, A Gemóre Nigun - Levenson, Two Jewish Folk Songs - Gretchaninov, Variations - Binder, Variations on a prayer motif - Dieter Klöcker, Clarinet - Vlach Quartet - CPO 1999

This 2-cd set on CPO is chamber music heaven. For me. Perhaps for you too-I think it's high-time to find out. This project is exceptional on all levels really; the artists involved play superbly (I'm sure most of you will know The Vlach Quartet Prague, as well as the clarinetist Dieter Klöcker) and all of the music is well worth getting acquainted with-most of it is truly exceptional I think. All of the composers here have penned works borne from the Jewish experience in one way or another; it's music that you truly "feel" as you listen, even for the very first time. Intimate storytelling by way of the speaking clarinet (a Jewish 'soul' instrument) and the passion of the string quartet, this is music that emotes in every color, music that sings joyously and cries mournfully. It is the joy that prevails here.

Those interested in getting to know Jewish music soon realize the difficulties inherent in such an undertaking. Jewish music is extremely complicated, because in order to understand it one must take into account ethnic, geographical and historical influences, which give rise to numerous musical structures, as well as varied styles.  It is also difficult to specify exactly what a Hebrew musical composition is. To this day musicologists have not managed to find an exact definition. As a general rule one can say that a Jewish work is one written by a Jewish composer and which includes musical material from the Jewish folk or religious tradition. Three distinct ethnic groups can be distinguished:
the Ashkenazi from Central and Eastern Europe, the Sephardi of Spanish origin, and the 'oriental' Jews from the Middle East, Yemen and North Africa. Each of these groups has its own particular music. All of the Jewish composers on this recording are Ashkenazi from Eastern Europe. The music of the Ashkenazi is infinitely varied, with different styles for religious and folk music. Its most important characteristics can be summed up:

1) use of a scale without the leading note, and which may contain one or more augmented seconds

2) melodies often comparable to improvisation or recitative, with free rhythm and exuberant ornamentation

3) melodic and rhythmic sequences

4) prominent use of anapestic (a musical foot consisting of two short notes, followed by one long note) rhythmic motives in popular style 

The birth of Jewish artistic creation in Eastern Europe took place at the beginning of the 20th century. 
This awareness of a specifically Hebrew art came quite naturally, in the wake of other nationalist musical movements that were forming in Europe from the end of the 19th century. In addition, Jewish and intellectual circles in Russia could already take as a model the 'mighty five' who had successfully established Russian classical music from the folklore of their country. In 1908 a 'Society for Jewish Folk Music' whose express aim was to collect, publish, and disseminate ethnic Jewish music was formed in St. Petersburg. Its success was such that branches were organized in other Russian cities. It also encouraged Jewish composers to create art music based on popular and liturgical themes. This new movement excited enormous interest among Jewish composers all over Europe and in the United States.

To be continued...

Enjoy the quintet treasures everyone!

Disc 1


Disc 2



Wolfgang said...

Thank you very much! I've search these CDs for years.

Scraps said...

Wow! Two CDs of Clarinet Quintets! Awesome! (Pretty much my favorite genre [or whatever] of classical music are chamber music for winds.) (This is way way off topic, but: are you familiar with George Perle's wind quintets? Probably one of my ten -- five -- favorite classical music recordings.)

Wolfgang said...

Please, don't forget the information about the composers. Perhaps you could scan the booklet?

Jojhan said...

Great Quintets, a marvelous rare release!

Thank you from B.C.

Tzadik said...

Hi Wolfgang, you are quite welcome! Nice to know your search for these great discs is over :)
I no longer have a scanner thus I usually try to find album art online these days, and as for the notes
I will type them out from the booklet and add my own too if time permits. I will do this tonight.



Tzadik said...

Scraps let me know what ya think of this collection, I think you might just flip your musical lid over a few pieces (or not). I adore wind music too, needless to say I have tons. -How exactly is it off-topic to ask about Perle's Wind Quintets? I'd say it's right on target ;) I like the Perle Quintets, I own the disc on New World records of the 'complete' works. God knows where on earth it is, however if you want it I will do my best to locate it (could take months to be honest).


Tzadik said...

Jojhan thanks for leaving another comment, I appreciate it! This is one of fav chamber music collections...


Scraps said...

Oh no, I have the Perle wind quintets on New World, thanks.

But I notice that you put the word "complete" in quotes. Am I missing something?

(I only have Perle's wind quintets and piano music, and one or two scattered pieces. I would buy more, but I haven't seen any more.)

Scraps said...

I forgot; I also have Perle's Serenade No.3 + Ballade + Concertino.

Just sayin'. ;-)

Tzadik said...

Hmm...what label is the Serenade etc. on, also New World? I don't think I have it :-O Or do I?? I dunnooo
I have been looking for a disc of his piano music on Albany, but it's one of those cds
that I haven't played in could be in so many different places, being lonely : /


Tzadik said...

Scraps, sorry I put 'complete' in 'quotes' for no good reason, save to emphasize that the disc is...complete. Ha


DarkS said...

Wow. This is one of the best albums I've seen in a long time! THANJK U