February/March 2008 Volume XXVII, No.3    

Association of Jewish Libraries

N E W S L E T T E R

 


Kamti Lehallel: I Rise in Praise: The Musical Tradition of the

Spanish and Portuguese Jewish Communities of Amsterdam,

London and New York.

Tel Aviv: Beth Hatefutsoth Records,

2007.2 compact discs.

$25.00 BTR 0701.

Listeners could not be faulted for mistaking this 19th-and 20th-century synagogue music for 18th-century Catholic or Lutheran church music. As Spanish and Portuguese conversos returned to Judaism and settled in Amsterdam, they rebuilt hazzanut practically from scratch, developing a new liturgical tradition that relied heavily on the music of the Italian Baroque. The music on these discs was meticulously researched and arranged for chorus and instrumental ensemble by Hazzan Daniel Halfon and composer Raymond Goldstein. The discs are accompanied by a lavishly illustrated hardcover booklet, over100 pages, containing detailed program notes and essays on the communities and musical traditions represented, complete with generous bibliographies. Even if these recordings were of mediocre quality, they would be extremely valuable for musicological research alone. Thankfully, this is far from the case. The performances and recording quality are nothing short of exquisite. The arrangements are beautiful; (one can occasionally detect harmonies that are not stylistically appropriate, but if one is not too particular about historical accuracy, these moments give the music some welcomed harmonic variety.) It goes without saying that institutions with programs in Jewish music or ethno-musicology should purchase this set, but any library with a sound recording collection would find Kamti Lehallel to be a valuable academic resourceas well as a collection of beautiful music.

Daniel Scheide, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL