The emblematic recording devoted to ‘Jewish Songs’, which has been so important in the career of the distinguished cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton, is now available once more, with new texts written by the artist herself in a beautifully produced 72-page four-colour booklet. In addition to the original recording, this reissue includes Ravel’s Chanson hébraïque, for which Sonia Wieder-Atherton is joined by Sinfonia Varsovia under Jànos Fürst.
Despite its success in France some years ago on another label, this recording has never been released in several countries. Its reissue in an enhanced form (there’s also an extra traditional Jewish song on track 3) comes as part of Wieder-Atherton’s exclusive Naïve contract. The project is very much the cellist’s: she researched the sources that gave birth to these prayers and chants. She and pianist Daria Horova transcribed, harmonized and often reconstructed these melodies – but in a way that respected the original. Then she turned to composer Jean-François Zygel, asking that he imprint his own vision of certain of these sources and that he draw inspiration from them in composing three more pieces.
Years later, they decided to add to the cycle Bloch’s magnificent compositions inspired, as was a great part of his work, by ancient Hebraic music: The Nigun (improvisation) written in 1923, a transcription of one of his works for violin and piano taken from the Baal Shem cycle; the three-part Jewish Life; and Meditation Hébraïque, both written in 1924. The latest addition is Maurice Ravel’s Hebraic song, warmly accompanied by Sinfonia Varsovia directed by János Fürst, the charismatic conductor who died in 2007. The Hebraic song is the last of a cycle of seven popular songs dating from 1910.
“A fascinating if rather niche programme mournful traditional melodies”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.