Album Remarks & Appraisals:
While rooted in the cantorial-liturgical tradition of Jewish music, the ten tracks on Eternal Echoes encompass a wide range of musical moods. Perlman said that his idea "was to do Jewish comfort music - everything that I recognize from my childhood is in this program." The two masters began to explore the confluences of sound between Perlman's famed classical technique with Helfgot's magnificent golden voice. "I always find that there is a real communication between voice and violin," says Perlman. "This was the fulfillment of a dream," says Helfgot. "When I was a child growing up I always knew about Itzhak Perlman, so of course I said yes, right away! I am very happy that this dream became real."
Released to coincide with the High Holy Days, these exquisitely crafted musical pictures include a stately and dramatic arrangement of "Sheyibone Bays Hamikdosh," the operatic "Shoyfer Shel Moshiakh," written by Abraham Goldfaden, father of the Yiddish theater, "Dem Trisker Rebn's Nign," a song Perlman learned from his klezmer collaborators and "Mizmor L'Dovid," an arrangement of Psalm 23 which may be the most famous piece on the album. Eternal Echoes wraps up with "Kol Nidrei," the famous prayer for Yom Kippur, in a simple chamber music setting that contrasts tastefully with past grandiose arrangements familiar to fans of singers like Richard Tucker and Jan Peerce.
Audio Mixer: Antonio Oliart Ros.
Liner Note Authors: Hankus Netsky; Jim Bessman.
Recording information: Avatar Studios, NYC (12/01/2011-11/28/2011).
Editors: David Lai; Antonio Oliart Ros.
Photographer: Lisa-Marie Mazzucco.
Translator: Hankus Netsky.
Arranger: Hankus Netsky.
The close approaches between Western, specifically American, concert music and Jewish traditional music are well known. Operatic artists Jan Peerce and Robert Merrill both started their careers as cantors, and the Jewish tradition has generated several important repertory works. But what you hold in your hand (or under your mouse) is something different. Violinist Itzhak Perlman describes it as a crossover album involving classical and cantorial music. The Jewish cantor, unlike a monk chanting liturgy, has considerable freedom in his choice of material, and the music here is drawn from various sources: all of it is religious, but it does not come from a strict liturgical tradition. Rather, it includes, in the words of annotator Jim Bessman, "elements of Yiddish folk song and theater music, Hassidic song and prayer, and klezmer music." Often they reflect dreams of a displaced people. To these are added two orchestral layers, one provided by the Klezmer Conservatory Orchestra of musical supervisor and co-producer Hankus Netsky, and the other by a group of string players drawn from among Perlman's students. Then there is the violin of Perlman himself, who heard this kind of material as a child in Israel and plainly found it natural to merge it with his own artistry. The whole thing may seem like an unlikely candidate for a major-label classical release, but the many sources of the music are quite elegantly woven together. The reactions of those without a religious connection to the music are likely to depend on how they feel about the voice of cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot, which may be an acquired taste. Sample it and consider the idea of delving further into one of Sony's more unusual releases. ~ James Manheim
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