“Rejoice” – Itzhak Perlman & Cantor Helfgot (2014)

by | Nov 21, 2014 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

“Rejoice” – Itzhak Perlman & Cantor Helfgot (2014)

Other performers: Rejoice Chamber Orch., Klezmer Conservatory Band, Russell Ger; Short interviews with Joel Grey, Neil Sedaka & Elie Wiesel
TrackList: Yism’Khu (They Shall Rejoice); Rumenische Doyne (Romanian Doina); Shoyfer Shel Moshiakh (Ram’s Horn Of The Messiah); A Dudele (A Song To You); Sheyibone Beys Hamikdosh (May The Holy Temple Be Rebuilt); A Yidishe Mame (A Jewish Mother); Adir Hu/Moyshe Emes (Mighty Is He/Moses Is True); Yism’Khu (closer)
Director: Josh Waletzky
Studio: WNET/ C Major 718408 [10/28/14] (Distr. by Naxos)
Video: for 16:9 color
Audio: English & Yiddish DTS 5.1 or PCM 2.0
Subtitles: English
No region code
Extras: Additional interviews with the three above as well as Cantor Helfgot
Length: 70 min.
Rating: ****

This is a sort of sequel to a 1995 TV program which won an Emmy: In the Fiddler’s House. (Here’s our review of that.) It presents the artistic world of Eastern European Jewish music, or as Perlman calls it: “chicken soup for the soul.”  The music has been arranged for both chamber orchestra and klezmer band and includes folk music, traditional songs and liturgical songs. There are plenty of Hassidic and Yiddish melodies and some great instrumental work from the band, which includes many players from the New England Conservatory.

Pianist Dr. Hanus Netsky, of the Conservatory, is music director. He says of the varied program, “It’s roots music – big-time roots music – Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian and gypsy-influenced folk music with a strong Jewish accent – as if it’s a Jewish prayer. I liken it to the blues…It has just the right amount of happy and sad – laughter thru tears.” As an example, one folksong comes from a legendary Hassidic Rabbi and is titled “A Song to You.”  It says “Everything I do, everywhere I go, you are with me.”

The florid vocal style of some of the cantors was noticed by the most sophisticated composers by the 1700s, and in the 20th century such tenors as Jan Peerce and Richard Tucker transitioned from the synagogue to the Met.  The group performs “A Yiddishe Mama,” which was immortalized by Sophie Tucker.  Sound and image is excellent on this DVD made from HD video sources.

—John Sunier

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