“Eternal Echoes – Songs and Dances for the Soul” – Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot, tenor/ Itzhak Perlman, violin/ch. orch. and klezmer ens./Russell Ger – Sony Classical 88725 42006 2, 58:28 (TrackList follows) ****:
This is an absolutely lovely collection of traditional Jewish music on both sacred and secular themes, all sung in Hebrew by famed New York cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot and joined by the incomparable violinist Itzhak Perlman.
Helfgot is the cantor at the Manhattan Park East Synagogue and is a powerful presence. His tenor is a high, clear non-operatic timbre and he is blessed with a wide range and solid diction. Itzhak Perlman is, for many, the best known of all concert violinists with a beautifully unique sound and sweetness that cannot be imitated and is quite recognizable as his.
Perlman cites his love of the voice and the wonderful possibilities that the combination of voice and violin holds as his inspiration for this collaboration. Previously, he had made recordings and held performances of this type with, arguably, the two biggest names in operatic tenor; Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. As the maestro is quoted in the booklet notes, “The first thing is the voice. That’s what attracted me to this project – what Yitzchak’s voice does to you. It gives you goosebumps, like Domingo’s and Pavarotti’s”. I can’t disagree.
Perlman also reminds us that popular violinist and vocalist teams have found a similar passion over the years, including work done by Bing Crosby and Jascha Heifetz or John McCormack with Mischa Elman. The music here is a wonderful blend of styles that range from the joyous dance music of “They Shall Rejoice”, for example to a more prayerful, yearning style, as in “A Psalm of David.”
Certainly, people who come from the orthodox Jewish faith will relate immediately and with great satisfaction to these beautiful arrangements but – as one non-Jew – I have found great pleasure in listening to this type of music for many years. I cannot imagine that anyone will not find something in this collection to admire and enjoy.
The performances are simply fantastic. Perlman and Helfgot are undisputed masters but the supporting chamber orchestra and traditional klezmer ensemble under the direction of Russell Ger are very good.
Thanks to Sony Classical for providing the texts in traditional Hebrew and Yiddish but also for the printed the booklet in English as well as Hebrew, as this CD ought to rightly have cross-cultural appeal.
Kol ha kavod!
1. A Dudele (A Song to You)
2. Mizmor L’david (A Psalm of David)
3. Shoyfer Shel Moshiakh (Ram’s Horn of the Messiah)
4. Romanian Doyne (Romanian Shepherd’s Lament)
5. T’filas Tal (Prayer for Dew)
6. Yismu’chu (They Shall Rejoice)
7. R’tzay (Be Favorable)
8. Dem Trisker Rebns Khosid (The Follower of the Hassidic Master from Turisk)
9. Sheyibone Bays Hamikdosh (May the Holy Temple Be Rebuilt)
10. Kol Nidrei (All Vows)
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