|▼||Ha laḥma anya||01:40|
|Ha laḥma anya||01:40|
|▼||B'khol dor vador||03:29|
|B'khol dor vador||03:29|
|▼||Ḥasal siddur pesaḥ||02:32|
|Ḥasal siddur pesaḥ||02:32|
|▼||Medley of Traditional Seder Songs||03:07|
|Medley of Traditional Seder Songs||03:07|
Is it too obvious to begin a discussion of an album of Passover music with the question: What makes this album different from all others? The newest release from the Milken Archive of Jewish Music contains a compelling mix of old and new, known and obscure musical settings pertaining to the Passover holiday. As part of the series Cycle of Life in Synagogue and Home: Prayers and Celebrations Throughout the Jewish Year (Volume 4), the collection highlights the nature of a holiday that is playful and poignant, serious and silly, and that seems to beg for theatrical interpretation.
Much of the older material here hearkens to an era when traditional communal seders were held at city ballrooms or Catskills hotels. These seders were events where tradition and ritual mixed with entertainment and where bitter herbs were served with something to make them more palatable. It was a time when, as Artistic Director Neil W. Levin points out in the volume’s introduction, seders featured high-profile figures and “catered to a clientele hungry for bits of cantorial, liturgical, and even Second Avenue Yiddish theatrical nostalgia.”
The Milken Archive’s chosen representative of this era, the “Passover Seder Festival” composed by Yiddish theater maven Sholom Secunda and featuring the great operatic tenor and cantor Richard Tucker, couldn’t be more apropos. Nor should it be a surprise that these two commercially successful artists should have devoted such time and energy toward a religious enterprise, since both began their musical training in the synagogue. As a boy, Secunda was known colloquially as “The Prince of the Young Hazzanim (cantors)” while Tucker (born Reuven Ticker) sang in the choir at Tifereth Israel synagogue in Manhattan where his talent was nurtured by the great choirmaster Samuel Weisser. Like others featured on this album, Secunda and Tucker found satisfaction throughout their careers in musical pursuits that were commercial as well as spiritual, with loyalties to both synagogue and stage.