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Daniel Halfon began with a selection of liturgical settings from the three main Sephardi centres, namely London, New York, and Amsterdam. The melodies were remarkably bright and attractive; in the Dutch Kamti Lehallel, a tremolando accompaniment afforded a chance to appreciate some cantorial rhapsodizing before the jaunty tune. Tsur Mishelo, a New York version of a familiar Sabbath table hymn, was especially ebullient with its 18th century contrapuntal interactions with voice and strings. The expressive heart was the slow and gentle Achot Ketana, from the New Year liturgy, whilst after another sprightly tune from Amsterdam tradition, Halfon concluded this group with a beautiful lullaby, El Nora Aliah inflected with a tinge of oriental flavouring.
In the second half of the programme Halfon returned to sing both solo, two Gibraltarian settings from the 'Kaddish' prayer, and in duet with his son Mordecai, whose pure toned treble voice proved delightful in Hodu and Odecha from the 'Hallel' (Praise) service.
Copyright © 4 January 2007
Malcolm Miller, London UK