Tracks

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Track

Time

Prelude 03:04
Solo kon ti 04:36
Yo kon amor 06:25
Sivda de mi chikes 04:55
 

Liner Notes

Kantigas Ulvidadas, the second cycle of Ladino-based songs by Ofer Ben-Amots, is a setting of three songs to contemporary Judeo-Spanish (Ladino) texts by Israeli poets Miriam Raymond and Shlomo Avayou.

The composer views this work as contrasting in several ways to his earlier cycle, Songs from the Pomegranate Garden (2004). For one thing, whereas the Pomegranate songs are, in his words, principally contemporary arrangements of traditional Ladino folksongs, both the music and the poetry of Kantigas are original throughout the work. Then, too, while in Pomegranate one of his aims was to emphasize that folkloric material can have embedded potential power for contemporary treatment as well as possibilities for modern interpretation, in Kantigas he has attempted to endow the music with a flavor of age coupled with nostalgia—even what he calls a “forgotten sound.”

Kantigas opens with a solo piano prelude in imitation of a guitar or oud, which establishes the desired mood and ambience for the songs. The musical material of the prelude becomes the accompaniment for the first song, Solo kon ti (Only with You). The second song, Yo kon amor (I, with Love), is more slowly paced in the nature of a lament. Its rhapsodic introduction later becomes part of the accompaniment, which, throughout, underpins the vocal line as an extended, drawn-out drone. The nostalgic words of the third and final song, Civda de mi chikes (City of My Childhood), imagine a woman returning to her childhood hometown and recalling the sights, sounds, fragrances, and tastes of her past. For the piano part, Ben-Amots chose the style of a typical 1930s French chanson. Its piano ritornello suggestively echoes sonorities and idioms of an accordion. 

Ladino songs have been part of popular Israeli culture not only since the birth of the state, but even dating to the period prior to the War of Independence in 1948. A formal reconsideration and heightened awareness of Sephardi culture—language, music, and literature—however, began in the late 1960s. That development was marked by two plays written by the then president of Israel, Yitzhak Navon: Sephardi Romancero (1968) and Bustan Sephardi (Spanish Garden, 1970). These plays were well received at their successful performances by Habimah, Israel’s national theatre in Tel Aviv. 

In 1996 the Knesset passed the National Authority for Ladino Culture law with several objectives in mind, among which were the preservation and promotion of so-called Ladino culture and the establishment and expansion of related activities. Another step in the renewed exposure and expansion of this heritage was the Festiladino in 2003—an annual international song competition designed not only to preserve the Ladino musical tradition but also to enhance it through concert performances of artistic, classically oriented symphonic arrangements. In the 2004 festival-competition, Ofer Ben-Amots’s song Deshame Entrar was awarded first prize for both musical composition and orchestral arrangement. It was sung at that event by its lyricist, Odelia Dahan.

Ben-Amots has expressed the hope that Kantigas, along with Pomegranate, will stimulate increased interest in Ladino language and heritage and contribute even if modestly to its preservation and renewal. 

By: Neil W. Levin

 

Lyrics

Sung in Ladino

Only with you

Oh little girl, my next door neighbor
Since your childhood I was chasing you,
Wanting to play, to play with you,
Great joy filled my heart!

Oh little girl, I was your next-door neighbor,
Since your childhood I was chasing you.
You were hiding, but I always found you,
Great joy filled my heart!

REFRAIN:
Enchanting rose
So sweet to kiss
Beloved girl,
Only with you I want to live!

Oh young maiden, bridegrooms came downstairs!
I watched you from my window,
And when I saw your beauty,
I fell in love, I fell in love.

REFRAIN:
Enchanting rose
So sweet to kiss
Beloved girl,
Only with you I want to live!

Oh friend, since my childhood I admired you.
With joy I attained you.
To love through night and day,
Always to love! Always to love!

REFRAIN:
Enchanting rose
So sweet to kiss
Beloved girl,
Only with you I want to live!

I, in love

I, in love,
have followed your step
I, in passion,
always dreaming of you
seeing you helplessly
for you I always sigh

For you, I have waited for years
My heart is crying
I desire you
looking to see your face
Give me your love
I will die waiting for you

City of my childhood

City of my childhood, I came to visit you,
City of my childhood, to you I have returned,
Known and forgotten streets there,
I arrives with a streetcar and a train.

In the place where my house once stood
The friends and neighbors are long gone.
But when I look at the window
It think I can see my father and my mother.

The candy factory has closed down,
The baker doesn’t bake his bread anymore,
I smell the scent of bread with chocolate,
The taste of my childhood returns to my palate.

Only the bar is still open;
I am already drunk without getting in,
“What are you looking for?” they ask me,
“I am looking for my childhood that has disappeared”

Sweet and precious memories,
The time remained there, yes, for me.
City of my childhood, I came to visit you,
City of my childhood, to you I have returned.

Sung in Ladino

Solo kon ti

Ijika, mi vezinika fuites
De tu chikez detras de ti
Korri para jugar, Para jugar kon ti
Gran alegriya en mi korason!

Ijika, tu vezeniko yo fui,
De mi chikez por ti kori,
Kuando tes kondias, Yo te topava,
Gran alegriya en mi korason!

REFRAIN
Roza de gozar
Dulse al bezar
Ijika amada,
Solo kon ti dezeo bivir!

Donzeya, kazanderos dariva 'basho!
De mi ventana yo te miri,
I viendo la tu emozura,
Me namori, me namori

REFRAIN
Roza de gozar
Dulse al bezar
Ijika amada,
Solo kon ti dezeo bivir!

Amiga, De mi chikez yo t'adori.
Kon alegriya yo t'alkansi.
Amando diya i noche,
Siempre amar! Siempre amar!

REFRAIN
Roza de gozar
Dulse al bezar
Ijika amada,
Solo kon ti dezeo bivir

Yo kon amor

Yo kon amor,
Detras de ti andando
Yo kon ardor,
Siempre kon ti sonyando
Verti sin poder
Por ti yo suspirando

Anyos t'esperi
Mi corason yorando
Yo te dezeyi
Tus fases bushkando
Dame tu amor
Muero yo esperando

Sivdá de mi chikés

Sivdá de mi chikés vini a toparte,
Sivdá de mi chikés torrni a ti.
Kalejas konosidas ulvidadas,
En tram i en metró yo vini aki.

En el lugar ke era la mi kaza
Amigos i vizinos no stan mas.
A mi sólo mirando la ventana
Me paresió de ver papá i mamá.

La fabriká de dulses sta serrada,
El panadero pan no aze mas.
Golor siento de pan i chikolata,
Savor de chikés al paladar.

Sólo la meaná st ainda avierta.
Ya sto burracha mizmo sin entrar.
"Sinyora, kualo bushkas?" me demandan.
"Yo bushko mi chikés ke no sta mas".

Rekordos tanto dulses i keridos.
El tiempo se kedó ay para mi.
Sivdá de mi chikés vini a toparte,
Sivdá de mi chikés vini a toparte,
ivdá de mi chikés torni a ti.


 

Credits

Composer: Ofer Ben-Amots

Length: 03:04
Genre: Art Song

Performers: Debra Ayers, Piano;  Jeanne-Michele Charbonnet, Soprano

Additional Credits:

 Publisher: The Composer's Own Press

Text by Shlomo Avayou and Miriam Raymond

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