COMPOSERS: Bernstein,Bloch,Schoenberg & Zeisl
WORKS: Works by Bernstein, Bloch, Schoenberg & Zeisl
PERFORMER: Sharon Bezaly (flute), Vadim Gluzman (violin); São Paolo SO & Choir/ John Neschling
CATALOGUE NO: BIS CD 1650
The theme of this disc, Jewish worship and mourning, brings together some valuable rarities. Schoenberg’s 1938 Kol nidre is a powerful and approachable setting of the Yom Kippur prayer, in English, for reciter, chorus and orchestra. Bernstein’s 1981 Halil, a nocturne with solo flute dedicated to a young Israeli flautist killed in battle, creates a characteristic tension between astringent declamation and melting lyricism.
Bloch’s Baal Shem for violin, in the composer’s resplendent orchestration, reflects Jewish worship in its ‘three pictures of Chassidic life’. The 1945 Requiem Ebraico by the Austrian-born American composer Eric Zeisl is a setting of Psalm 92, in Hebrew, commemorating the composer’s father and others killed in the Holocaust; it’s rhythmically and harmonically somewhat foursquare, but expressive in both reverence and affirmation.
John Neschling draws convincing performances from his São Paolo forces. Stephen Bronk narrates the Schoenberg clearly; Sharon Bezaly and Vadim Gluzman are eloquent instrumental soloists. In the Zeisl however, soprano Gabriella Pace and mezzo Luisa Francesconi sound rather too operatic at times, but Rodrigo Esteves is a completely convincing cantorial baritone.
The recording is warm and natural throughout. This disc may mean most to Jewish listeners, but it’s still worth investigating purely musical grounds. Anthony Burton