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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa

Isabel Durin And Michael Ertzcheid

By Malachai Phelps
Published June 13, 2008

Hebrew Melodies Of The Romantic Era

The music of Tchaikovsky, Dvor? ák and Bartók has always communicated a range of emotion that’s more of the people than strictly for the people—a romantic approach to creating music that was not only embraced but transcended by the 19th- and 20th-century Jewish composers whose work is represented here. What’s more, when the instrumental configuration is stripped down to its simplest (in this case, the violin of Isabel Durin and the piano of Michaël Ertzcheid), the emotion that’s there hits, by turns, like a nail through the heart or a lift to the soul. Joseph Achron’s “Hebrew Melody (Op. 33)” is definitely of the former persuasion, with Durin’s violin telling a vivid tale of suffering, loss and redemption. A bit later in the sequence, George Perlman’s outstanding “Dance Of The Rebbitzen” (originally dedicated to the great violinist Yehudi Menuhin) offers a tantalizingly brief glimpse of the beautiful complexity that Yiddish dance music is known for. Performed and recorded with care and precision, Hebrew Melodies delivers on its romantic promise.