From Fauxkklore’s review of our spring concert, Wandering Stars: Two Centuries of European Jewish Song.
Russell was a revelation. His rich bass is perfectly suited to the Yiddish art songs he performed, which included a piece by Sidor Belarsky, as well as Belarsky’s arrangements of other composer’s songs. Russell has made a specialty of Belarsky’s music and that’s really quite a musical bashert. (Before someone asks, that’s a Yiddish word that means “destiny” and is usually used in relationship to marriage.) I particularly liked his performance of Israel Alter’s “Akhris Hayomim.”….
The highlight of the concert was Anthony Russell’s final set, again of pieces primarily arranged by Sidor Belarsky, but by various scomposers. Shmuel Polonsky’s “Mayn yungt” and Zelig Bardichever’s “Bessarabi” were straightforward songs of longing and memory. “Viglid” by Leyb Yampolsky followed and is literally a lullaby, but the lyrics reflect the inability to provide the good life a parent wants for a child. Russell’s resonant voice was simultaneously soothing and sad. He closed the set even more powerfully with the combination of two traditional songs – the African American piece “My Soul is Anchored in the Lord” and the Jewish prayer “Va’ani Tefilati,” which is one of the most beautiful parts of the High Holiday liturgy. This was jaw-droppingly beautiful. In short, Russell (who is an African-American Jew by choice, by the way) conveyed such sheer spiritual power that I can’t imagine any audience member was unmoved. Yasher koach!
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Reviewing Wandering Stars: Two Centuries of European Jewish Song, Sam Hall writes:
The three voices—all deep, expressive, and rich—were those of Mark Glanville, Mathias Hauseman, and Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell. Glanville brought to his performance dramatic flair and a virtuosic humor, Hausmann a focused intensity. Russell’s voice—to my ears—was perhaps the most beautiful I have heard in person. The singers were subtle and nuanced in their inflections, powerful but never showy in their emotional intensity. . . .
The choices for the program were selected and arranged with great economy so as tell the story of the Jewish art music associated with the Central European Lieder tradition based on setting Romantic poetry to music, from its great commencement with Schubert in the 19th century to its passing, along with that of the cultural world that begot it, during and after World War II. We see the Jewish forms of the genre both in their internal development and in their relations to the wider culture.
My only regret is that this was a one-time performance—I would want more people to be able to go—but it’s one I’m very happy I got to see.
Read the rest at DC Metro Theater Arts.
On Monday, March 14, 2016 at 9 pm (EST), WETA’s Front Row Washington will broadcast Pro Musica Hebraica’s Spring 2015 concert, “Before the Night: Jewish Classical Masterpieces of Pre–1933 Europe.”
In the concert, the Toronto-based ARC Ensemble perform works by three Jewish composers: Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and Jerzy Fitelberg, all of whom fled Nazi persecution in Europe and relocated to America.
Classical WETA’s Deborah Lamberton recently spoke with the ARC Ensemble’s Artistic Director Simon Wynberg about the reasons that the music featured in the concert remains relatively unknown. You can listen to the interview now on WETA’s website.
To listen to the concert on Monday night, Washington-area residents can tune in to WETA 90.9 FM. If you live outside of the DC area, you can tune in live on WETA’s website.
The Houston Chronicle reports on Paula Eisenstein Baker, Houston cellist and musicologist, and her work to recover the lost music of composer Leo Zeitlin :
“It’s important to bring back Zeitlin’s work,” [co-author Robert] Nelson says. “Too often composers who are quite talented are unjustifiably neglected. We feel we’ve discovered some extraordinarily strong music, and it’s been sitting in a trunk.”
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The Strad reviews the ARC Ensemble’s Chamber Works by Jerzy Fitelberg:
[T]hese are all premiere recordings of fine music. The ARC Ensemble does the composer proud. The First Quartet, written in 1926, opens and closes with a Presto full of motoric bustle, with an interlude for some quirky, wistful violin playing from Erika Raum. In the three inner movements, full of innovative writing and colourful textures, the playing is neat and often exuberant.[…] This is a disc worth hearing: first-class music, well played and recorded.
The ARC Ensemble’s recent album includes Fitelberg’s String Quartet No. 2 (1928), which the ARC Ensemble performed in Pro Musica Hebraica’s Spring 2015 concert.
The recordings are available on Amazon.