The Arty Semite

CDs for Your Hanukkah Stocking

By Benjamin Ivry

  • Print
  • Share Share
Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes we listen to CDs for their artistry, sometimes simply to relish individual voices, and few voices are as heartening and as reaffirming about human values as the rich, exquisitely cultured speaking tones of Albert Einstein, to be heard on a reprint from British Library Publishing. In original recordings from 1930 to 1947, in English mostly but also in German, Einstein addresses audiences for the benefit of Jewish war refugees with moving simplicity and grace. This is a must-hear, unforgettable item.

Other voices have other aims; Salim Halali, born into a North African Jewish family in Annaba, Algeria in 1920, expresses love of home on a CD from Buda Musique, featuring a blazing version of “My Yiddishe Momme” which makes Sophie Tucker sound positively reticent by comparison.

Strong individual voices can blend expressively, as in the new CD by the piano duo comprising Sivan Silver and Gil Garburg, born in Israel in 1976 and 1975, respectively. Ms. Silver and Mr. Garburg’s light-fingered versions of Mendelssohn on Oehms Classics are vivifying and exhilarating.

More Mendelssohn has also appeared in the form of that composer’s “Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage Overture” in a magisterial 1954 performance newly reprinted by ArkivMusic CDs. This recording is by the Israel Philharmonic conducted by Polish Jewish Paul Kletzki. Despite wide acclaim for his composition (not least by Arturo Toscanini) his work as a conductor in Liverpool and Dallas is often under-appreciated.

Another once-overlooked maestro, the San Francisco Symphony’s Alfred Hertz, has won acclaim via a superlative series of CD transfers from Pristine Classical, and this series reaches a triumphal conclusion with Hertz’s performances, redolent with Yiddishkeit, of elegant salon music by Fritz Kreisler and Moritz Moszkowski.

A more urbane, modernist charm is heard in the Second Piano Concerto of Alexandre Tansman, as played by David Greilsammer on a new CD distributed in the USA by Naxos. The Polish-born Tansman superficially sustained both French and Russian influences, although his music could express inner profundities — he wrote an opera about Sabbatai Zevi. Greilsammer, who is the son of the eminent Israeli historian Ilan Greilsammer, is an ideally edgy, propulsive interpreter.

More unfamiliar repertory is uncovered in the form of two works by the Polish composer Józef Koffler in new recordings on Channel Classics. Koffler’s “Trio for Strings, Op. 10” follows in the tradition of the Arnold Schoenberg’s Second Vienna School, but with its own personality and weightiness. A more elaborate cantata by Koffler, “Love” (Die Liebe, Op. 14) reinforces the impression that Koffler was a major talent whose death in the Holocaust under still-obscure circumstances was a major loss to modern music.

Listen to Salim Halali sing “My Yiddishe Momme” live, leaving not a dry eye in the house.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Albert Einstein, Alfred Hertz, Arturo Toscanini, David Greilsammer, Fritz Kreisler, Gil Garburg, Mendelssohn, Moritz Moszkowski, Paul Kletzki, Salim Halali, Sivan Silver

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!
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • 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.