Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I stumbled on a record I have not listened to for almost forty years. The recording was sandwiched between many other old records,all of which were packed away. After all, we are living in the age of the CD- vinyl recordings are relics of the past to be relegated to the dust bin of history.
I retrieved the recording and played it-it was almost an ineffable experience. I was transported by the beauty of the music, especially the voice of the cantor, lyrical and sweet, straightforward in its recitation of the prayer without resorting to the excesses of flourishes and repetitions often heard from Ashkenazic interpreters of cantorial music today.
The recording was a Collector's Guild item containing the music of the French Synagogue.
It had been recorded before World War II; the heavenly voices of both cantor and choir were brutally silenced in the German death camps.
The style of the music is a blending of Ahkenazic-European and Sephardic-Spanish(Middle Eastern) traditions. The music is pure without "extraneous layers and parasitic adornments."
As I listened, I responded differently from how I was able to appreciate this music in my twenties. I was always fond of the music. This time however, the music touched a place in my heart that was both magical, majestic and miraculous. I could not help but feel grateful for the moments of listening that escorted me spiritually into the current season of the Days of Awe. The music was, if anything, awesome.
I can only refer to the jacket of the record to convey the sacredness of these sounds.When commenting on the arrangement of the music, the author states:"the compositions,arrangements and choral direction are notable for their exquisite, subtle harmonies and tonal balance."
I intend to listen to this selection of the High Holyday liturgy as often as I can; I am confident and grateful that it will lend special depth to this season of renewed thankfulness and awareness of life's beauty and wonder.

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