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!
  • Yeshiva University's lawyer wanted to know why the dozens of former schoolboys now suing over a sexual abuse cover-up didn't sue decades ago. Read the judge's striking response here.
  • It’s over. The tyranny of the straight-haired, button nosed, tan-skinned girl has ended. Jewesses rejoice!
  • It's really, really, really hard to get kicked out of Hebrew school these days.
  • "If Netanyahu re-opens the settlement floodgates, he will recklessly bolster the argument of Hamas that the only language Israel understands is violence."
  • Would an ultra-Orthodox leader do a better job of running the Met Council?
  • So, who won the war — Israel or Hamas?
  • 300 Holocaust survivors spoke out against Israel. Did they play right into Hitler's hands?
  • Ari Folman's new movie 'The Congress' is a brilliant spectacle, an exhilarating visual extravaganza and a slapdash thought experiment. It's also unlike anything Forward critic Ezra Glinter has ever seen. http://jd.fo/d4unE
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you 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.