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<<<  <<  -- 3 --  Malcolm Miller    A YIDDISH WINTERREISE


Glanville's robust characterisation well conveyed the bleak horror and the life affirming images of the folk poetry, balancing the expressions of anguish and pain with those of defiance and hope. Slow songs like 'S'brent' (Its burning) about the destroyed 'shtetl', 'Jerushaloyim', a prisoner's impassioned yearning for Zion, and 'Moyshele Mayn Fraynd' a reminiscence of a lost, vivacious childhood, were contrasted by ebullient, snappy dances such as 'A Zemer', the klezmery 'Der Rebe hot Geheysen Freylech Zayn', 'Hot a Yid a Vaybele' and a Cossack dance.

In several songs alluding to liturgical music, Glanville injected a necessary cantorial fervour, and at times the 'sobbing' style, notably in 'Habein Yakir Li Efrayim' by Rabbi Levi Yitshok of Berditchev. Other highlights included the operatic grandeur of 'Unter Dayne Vayse Shtern' ('Under Your White Stars'), enriched with Knapp's Rachmaninov-like arrangement, and the Chopinesque calm of 'Der Zeyger' ('The Clock') with its 'Raindrop' prelude style accompaniment.

The 'a capella' final 'Kaddish' formed a stirring and chilling close to the cycle, an affirming gesture highlighting how prayer and song go hand in hand as a force to conquer destruction and evil. All in all, Mark Glanville and Alexander Knapp succeeded in showing how a folk idiom such as Yiddish song may be adapted to the demands of a sophisticated aesthetic goal through inventive artistic arrangements and large-scale dramatic pacing. The event as a whole emphasised a particularly Jewish spiritual expression of faith in the face of suffering, appropriately universalised in this concert to mark the Holocaust Day anniversary, a responsibility to remember the past, to awaken the morality of the present and to hope in the promise of a peaceful future.

Copyright © 7 February 2007 Malcolm Miller, London UK




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