|I. L'kha dodi
|II. Mi khamokha
|Salamone Rossi: Sacred Service
|May the Words
|Love Songs for Sabbath
|I. Organ Prelude
|II. L'kha dodi
|IV. Sh'ma yisrael
|V. Organ Interlude
|VI. Mi khamokha
|VII. Mourner's Kaddish
|VIII. Adon olam
|IX. Organ Postlude
Prayer in Judaism is perhaps best understood as both a natural and a highly developed mode of communication with God—both an act of faith and an expression of one’s inner spirituality. Thus, it should come as no surprise that virtually every period and community in the recorded history of Judaism has offered fresh contributions to the forms, types, and styles of prayer, as well as to its musical counterparts. This album, the latest installment to the Cycle of Life in Synagogue and Home (Volume 4 of the Milken Archive of Jewish Music: The American Experience), explores sacred music for the Sabbath Eve with works four by key American Jewish composers: Max Helfman, Adolphe Katcko, Isadore Freed, and Jack Gottlieb.
Helfman’s Shabbat M’nuḥa is a series of four standard liturgical responses—sung here by Meir Finkelstein and the New York Cantorial Choir— that betray a folk- and dance-like sensibility and also contain some interesting if not entirely unpredictable harmonic moves.
Adolphe Katchko’s Avodat aharon showcases his ability at composing for choral as well as cantorial voices. Katchko was already an established cantor in Europe when he immigrated to America in 1921 and soon joined the ranks of the “Golden Age”cantors.
The late-Renaissance/early-Baroque Italian Jewish composer Salamone Rossi was largely unknown to American congregations prior to Isadore Freed’s Sacred Service: Salamone Rossi (1954). Though Freed humbly described his role in the piece as “transcriber,” in reality he was a co-composer, preserving Rossi’s music intact as much as possible while adapting it to a performance format for Reform synagogues.
Featuring tenor Karl Dent and Tovah Feldshuh as narrator, Jack Gottlieb’s Love Songs for the Sabbath combines poetry by the medieval Spanish poet Yehuda Halevi, Hannah Sennesh and others, with standard liturgical texts. With this elaborate service, Gottlieb joined some of America’s leading composers who had participated Cantor David Putterman’s famous commissioning program at New York’s prestigious Park Avenue Synagogue.
Collectively, the works on this album reveal the joyous and thoughtful body of music that has emerged in America from the productive combination of music and prayer.
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