The Arty Semite

A Little Midsummer’s Night Music

By Benjamin Ivry

  • Print
  • Share Share
operainfo.org
Roberta Peters as the Queen of the Night.

Even as summer winds down, classical CD releases continue apace.

A pellucid live performance on DVD from VAI Music of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” from the 1964 Salzburg Festival is one of the season’s best choices. It’s conducted by the Hungarian Jewish maestro István Kertész, who died in a swimming accident at Herzliya beach in 1973. In Salzburg, Kertész already possessed the required wisdom for Mozart’s profound score. The American Jewish coloratura soprano Roberta Peters incarnates a nightmare Jewish mother as the berserk Queen of the Night.

Another Jewish diva of a different genre is Hungarian pianist Márta Kurtág, wife of the composer György Kurtág. An unsurpassed interpreter of her husband’s music, which she has recorded for the Budapest Music Center (BMC) label, Mrs. Kurtág is one pianist unimpressed by commercial considerations. She studied Beethoven’s rambunctiously finger-busting “Diabelli Variations” for a half-century before recording the piece in 1999, and that thrilling, soulfully sonorous recording is only now available on CD from BMC.

Moving away from the keyboard, the online CD vendor ArkivMusic.com has reprinted a program of modern guitar music played by Todd Seelye titled “Sheer Pluck,” after an amusingly quirky work by American Jewish composer Milton Babbitt, which is a highlight of the CD. “Sheer Pluck” also includes the uncompromisingly inventive, yet graceful, “Five Intermezzi” by Berlin-born Jewish composer Ursula Mamlok.

Listeners in search of Old Testament exotica will want to hear another ArkivMusic.com reprint, of Arthur Honegger’s biblical oratorio, “King David,” led in 1961 by the underrated Greek-born Jewish conductor Maurice Abravanel and starring the dulcet-toned Israeli soprano Netania Davrath. As a deliciously wicked Witch of Endor, Madeleine Milhaud, the wife — and cousin — of French Jewish composer Darius Milhaud, is a delightfully fiery spirit.

So is the violin virtuoso Ida Haendel in her soaring 1957 live performances of concertos by Beethoven and Sibelius conducted by the ardent podium giant and Auschwitz survivor Karel Ančerl, which have just been released for the first time ever by the Czech label Supraphon and are must-hearing not just for summer, but for all seasons.

Watch Roberta Peters bring down the house in the “The Magic Flute,” at the 1964 Salzburg Festival:


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Ursula Mamlok, Todd Seelye, Roberta Peters, Netania Davrath, Márta Kurtág, Madeleine Milhaud, Milton Babbitt, Maurice Abravanel, Karel Ančerl, István Kertész, Ida Haendel, György Kurtág, Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.