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<<  -- 3 --  Malcolm Miller    RENEWAL AND REVITALISATION


The sparkling klezmer group Shir launched the second half with a brilliant set of three Hassidic Dances. Shir's leader Maurice Chernick's clarinet projected a sweet and rounded tone around the inspired improvisation of Piotr Jordan's violin, combining keenly with the springy rhythms from guitarist Ivor Goldberg and bassist Steve Rose, in a thrilling ensemble. The first dance led to a rip-roaring climax while the second started slowly with violin then gradually sped up into a lively and familiar third dance, affectionately known by some as the Rebbe's Niggun. While the choir came on Shir played a slower, elegant dance with finesse and precision. The choir displayed its own well-disciplined style in three attractive modern arrangements by the composer Stephen Glass: a sazzy Yismechu with excellent dynamic contrasts, a more soupy and sultry texture featured in Ve'al Kulam, with Steve Robins, and Eytz Chayim Hi with Jason Blair.

Three famous Cantorial settings followed: a solo cantorial rendition by Cantor Gedalya Alexander of the intensely moving V'hu rachum by Rosenblat, one of the greatest cantors of the first half of the 20th century, which earned a deserved wave of enthusiastic applause. It was followed by Samuel Alman's Sfirat Ha Omer sung impressively by Cantor Steven Leas, evocatively backed by the choir, and finally tenor Elliot Alderman's Uv'yom Hashabbat. The Israeli song of peace, Lo Teida, received an intense performance with Steven Leas as soloist, while a lighter touch concluded the programme, a medley of melodies to the hymn Adon Olam ('Lord of Worlds'), in which the audience participated with spirited clapping. The warm reception bodes well for the future of a choir enjoying a revitalisation under its dynamic musical director Michael Etherton and chairman Dan Jacobs. The concert also highlighted the creative richness of a wide repertoire of Jewish choral music to appeal to all ages, tastes and religious affiliations.

Copyright © 7 December 2006 Malcolm Miller, London UK


The CD 80 Years: London Jewish Male Choir, EUCD 2015 (2006), is available from ARC Music. The London Jewish Male Choir's website has details of and soundclips from the group's other CD, For all these things (ARC Music 2001).

There is also more information online about the klezmer ensemble Shir, again with details of the group's recordings.

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