The Arty Semite

CDs to Cool Off the Dog Days of Summer

By Benjamin Ivry

  • Print
  • Share Share
Wiki Commons

Nothing distracts more from brutal estival heat than revitalizing musical discoveries with a refreshing dose of Yiddishkeit on CD. Turin-born Italian Jewish composer Leone Sinigaglia was admired by Fritz Kreisler and Arturo Toscanini, but fell into obscurity after dying at age 75 in 1944, just as he was being arrested in hospital by Nazis. A Toccata Classics release includes Sinigaglia’s mellifluous Violin Sonata and Cavatina in G, both ably played by soloist Solomia Soroka, accompanied by pianist Phillip Silver.

Another modern composer worth rediscovery is the Polish Jewish musician Alexandre Tansman, whose lithe Concertino for oboe, clarinet and string orchestra is charmingly played on Naxos by clarinetist Jean-Marc Fessard and oboist Laurent Decker. More Tansman, as well as works by fellow Jewish composers Darius Milhaud and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, played suavely by violinist Jascha Heifetz and pianist Emanuel Bay on an ArkivMusic.com reissue.

Also from Arkivmusic.com is another composer worth getting to know, America’s Louis Gruenberg, of Lithuanian Jewish origin, whose 1944 violin concerto is ideally played by Heifetz and French Jewish conductor Pierre Monteux. Yet more Milhaud can be heard on a Pristine Classical reissue of the composer conducting his own “The Four Seasons” in 1958 with superb soloists including the dazzling violinist Szymon Goldberg.

For more familiar music in fresh, exhilarating performances, try Mendelssohn’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” as conducted by the Dutch maestro Frans Brüggen on Glossa Records. Even Felix-o-philes who think they know Mendelssohn’s Octet will be riveted by the fizzy exuberance of a 1968 recording by Britain’s splendid Melos Ensemble featuring violinist Emanuel Hurwitz and violist Cecil Aronowitz, on EMI Classics.

Another way to make Mendelssohn new is in deft transcriptions for guitar, played by the mighty UK virtuoso Julian Bream, reissued by ArkivMusic CDs. America’s great Broadway composers seem especially alluring in summertime, and Jerome Kern’s songs have rarely been as enticingly sung as by the African-American diva Elisabeth Welch, on a CD reissued by ArkivMusic.com.

A different kind of popular music, no less majestic, is heard on a CD that promises much, but not more than it delivers. “The Very Best of Jewish-Arab Song Treasures” from Buda Musique stars the emotionally rich vocalizing of such Algerian Jewish singers as Reinette l’Oranaise, Alice Fitoussi and Lili Labassi.

Finally, nothing is cooler for those seeking shelter from the sweltering summer than cool jazz, as represented by the masterful soprano sax virtuoso Steve Lacy (born Steven Norman Lackritz in New York), whose brilliantly idiomatic compositions can be relished on two new CDs of pathbreaking 1980s live performances on the Jazzwerkstatt label.

What temperature is it, anyway?

Listen to Algerian Jewish diva Alice Fitoussi.

Listen to another Algerian Jewish stalwart, Lili Labassi.

Or listen to Jascha Heifetz play an excerpt from Louis Gruenberg’s Violin Concerto.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Louis Gruenberg, Leone Sinigaglia, Julian Bream, Jerome Kern, Jascha Heifetz, Emanuel Bay, Elisabeth Welch, Darius Milhaud, Alexandre Tansman, Pierre Monteux, Solomia Soroka, Szymon Goldberg

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!
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • 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.