• Songs of love and exile

    musicians:Izhar Elias and Channa Malkin (soprano)
    A Sephardic Journey
    released:september 2019
    price:€ 10,-

    This album is an anthology of popular Sephardic songs completed with excerpts from a rare song collection by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

    The selection of Sephardic songs they have made ranges between subjects of love, war, birth and death: epic tales sung by medieval Spanish bards, Jewish liturgical melodies and texts, and Arabic styles of melodic ornamentation. Malkin and Elias have made their own arrangements, letting the music guide them intuitively and drawing inspiration from their backgrounds in early music, Jewish cantorial singing and Spanish folk song interpretation, as well as their personal family histories.

    Their selection also includes several Sephardic songs arranged by contemporary composers, in order to explore the ways in which this music can be performed as classical art song. Israeli composer, guitarist and Sephardic song expert Daniel Akiva, Spanish composer and conductor Lorenzo Palomo and Joaquín Rodrigo each offer a unique take on the Sephardic song idiom. So does the Italian-American composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: his collection of The Divan of Moses-Ibn-Ezra sets the poetry of an 11th-century rabbi from Grenada.

    Sepharad, today’s Spain and Portugal, held a large Jewish population since at least the 8th century. During the Moorish occupation the Sephardic Jews enjoyed a degree of religious freedom unheard of in Europe at the time, taking part in the rich social and intellectual life of the day.
    The musical tradition was passed on by the women, who were kept at home among themselves. The music was the result of the cultural melting pot of the day, a mix of the epic tales sung by medieval Spanish bards, Jewish liturgical melodies and Arabic styles of melodic ornamentation. The language was Judaeo-Spanish, a mix of Spanish and Hebrew.
    On this new recording the traditional songs come in arrangements by contemporary composers as well as by the artists themselves.
    Both artists, soprano Channa Malkin and guitarist Izhar Elias, share a Jewish ancestry, deeply rooted in the widely spread Jewish settlements of Central Europe and the Middle East.

  • Schubert’s Guitars

    Played on two original Enzensperger guitars

    Shore with Blue Sea

    Eleanor Harris (American, 1901-1942)

    A green and brown rural landscape leading into a bright blue ocean and slightly cloudy sky, done in oil paints.

    The Guitar Through the Eyes of the Master
    The two sonatas on this album were composed in two periods during which life looked very different for the composer Franz Schubert (1797-1828). The first, the Piano Sonata in A major, D 664 was written while on a long trip during the summer of 1819, when he exchanged the busy and polluted streets of Vienna for the beauties of nature in northern Austria. The second, the Piano Sonata in Bb major, D 960, his last piano sonata, was composed almost ten years later in 1828. By this time, he was, at last, enjoying increasing fame as a composer, but his health had deteriorated so much that he did not survive to enjoy this success for long.

    Schubert himself owned guitars made by the two best Viennese luthiers: Johann Georg Stauffer and Bernard Enzensperger. His Stauffer was an early example which, in terms of construction, dated back to just before the innovations that made this maker famous.

    Schubert’s Enzensperger guitar already had some of those innovations, and it is an extra special feature of this recording that both Fernando and Izhar play on original Enzensperger guitars. These guitars were built between 1830 and 1834, so not many years after Schubert’s death. The guitar was a very popular instrument during the three decades that Schubert lived. It was played by people from all walks of life and was certainly used regularly in the musical salons in which Schubert himself took part.

    There are first editions of his songs written for voice and guitar, some occasional works by him that use the guitar, pictures of Schubert featuring a guitar or a guitar player, and indeed written sources by members of his circle of friends, showing that there was a lot of guitar playing going on in his environment.

    Fernando Riscado Cordas has arranged these masterpieces for guitar duo. An important factor in the choice of these works is that they share certain properties that are very suitable to the character of the guitar. As in all his instrumental music, the vocal character of Schubert’s piano sonatas can be heard very clearly in their melodies.

    The phrases have very natural fluidity and contours, and an entirely unforced narrative character that suggests a sung text. The early 19th Century guitar, strung with gut strings, is an instrument that shines in being able to combine melody with harmony, enhancing this further with a rich palette of timbres. Because guitarists play each note with two fingertips and are always in direct contact with the string and the sound, they can create nuances in sound that are very detailed and that can change in an instant. The difference in character in the two melodic themes of Schubert’s sonatas can thus be presented with better clarity and with more effective coloration than, for example, on a piano.

    The music on this album was played on two original early 19th century guitars by Bernard Enzensperger. They were strung with gut strings by Toro and Kürschner a’= 430 Hz.

  • Le Plaintif

    Ensemble Cordevento:
    Erik Bosgraaf – recorder
    Izhar Elias – baroque guitar
    Alessandro Pianu – harpsichord
    Robert Smith – viola da gamba
    Israel Golani – theorbo

    The French grand siècle is most often viewed through the gilt-framed mirrors of Versailles, showing the pomp and splendour, the feasts and formality of Louis XIV’s reign. However, the composers of his court took special pains to represent and analyse the human condition in all its moods, not least mourning and sadness. The entire aesthetic imaginary of this era is imbued with the power and charm of tears: the audience – in the words of philosopher Bernard de Fontenelle – wants ‘to be moved, agitated, […] to shed tears. The pleasure one takes in crying is so curious that I cannot help but think about it.’ The aesthetic of sorrow and grief was so powerful that not even instrumental music could resist its charm. Marais, Hotteterre and their contemporaries wrote eloquent examples of the plainte and the tombeau as well as courantes and allemandes which conveyed a sad and lamenting mood, through slow tempos, minor modes dissonance and chromaticism.

    It is from this eloquent repertoire that Cordevento, expanded for the occasion to a five-person lineup, has assembled an imaginative programme. The lion’s share is drawn from two collections of suites en trio by Marin Marais and Antoine Dornel, performed by Erik Bosgraaf (recorder) and Robert Smith (treble viola da gamba) with their colleagues Izhar Elias, Israel Golani and Alessandro Pianu (respectively on baroque guitar, theorbo, harpsichord) providing attentive and generous continuo accompaniment. Erik Bosgraaf also takes the spotlight with a selection of pieces for solo recorder and basso continuo by Hotteterre, Philidor and Montéclair, while his Cordevento co-founders Izhar Elias and Alessandro Pianu contribute solo pieces by Campion and d’Anglebert. Cordevento’s previous albums on Brilliant Classics have won international acclaim.

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