Search - Ofer Ben-Amots, Kenneth Kiesler, Karl Anton Rickenbacher :: Ofer Ben-Amots: Celestial Dialogues (Milken Archive of American Jewish Music)

Ofer Ben-Amots: Celestial Dialogues (Milken Archive of American Jewish Music)
Ofer Ben-Amots, Kenneth Kiesler, Karl Anton Rickenbacher
Ofer Ben-Amots: Celestial Dialogues (Milken Archive of American Jewish Music)
Genres: Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #1


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Fascinating . . .
J. T Waldmann | Carmel, IN, home to the fabulous new Regional Perf | 07/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Usually I read the liner notes before listening to a new recording. I did not do so with this disc. I popped it into the car stereo and was soon asking myself, "What the heck is THIS?" Coming out of the speakers was a strange mixture of a wordless chorus and tiny, tinkling bells that sounded like the soundtrack for a science fiction movie or background music for a bunch of people sitting cross-legged on the floor trying to make contact with someone from the spirit world. Then the word "Haskivenu" is sung and the music almost finds a tonal center and moves on. Mysterious and mystical. The whole composition lasted less than ten minutes, and was something I wanted to hear again immediately. How were those singers (the BBC Singers)able to sing something so atonal? Who is this Ofer Ben-Amots, anyway?He was born in Haifa, Israel in 1955, was something of a child prodigy, studied in Israel, Switzerland and Germany. (I read this after getting home, not while I was driving.) He emigrated to the US in 1987 and received his Ph.D in composition from the University of Pennsylvania in 1991. He has won numerous awards and prizes and his works have been performed by a wide range of orchestras and ensembles. Currently he is associate professor of music at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. Although little of his work has been recorded, this recording hopefully will change that.Besides the aforementioned "Haskivenu - Song of the Angels" (the angels who usher in Shabbat and accompany worshippers as they leave the synagogue and journey home for the Shabbat meal), the disc includes settings of six "Shtetl Songs," (in Yiddish) for voice and piano. These are masterfully performed by Israeli soprano Re'ut Ben-Ze'ev and pianist John Musto.But the centerpiece of the recording is "Celestial Dialogues" which (according to the back of the CD jacket) ". . . combines two great Jewish musical traditions: a klezmer clarinet solo - deriving from the haunting virtuoso sounds typical of traditional eastern European Jewish bands - and cantorial vocal passages that emanate from age-old Ashkenzazi liturgical ritual."
As interpreted by Cantor Alberto Mizrahi, clarinetist David Krakauer (man, can this guy play!), and the Barcelona Symphony directed by Karl Anton Rickenbacher, this is fascinating and amazing music that is likely to have you listening with your mouth wide open. Wow!Naxos' sound quality is top notch, the liner notes very informative. Text for the works are presented both in English and transliterated Hebrew. Definitely one of the best recordings in the excellent Milken Archive series. And a great price, too."
Naxos scores again!
Charles Richards | Los Angeles, CA | 05/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The Naxos "Milken Archive" series continues to go from strength to strength, and this new release of music by Ben-Amots is one of the best yet released.
Ben-Amots, a contemporary composer, is not very well-represented in the catalog, in fact, I can find no other work by him available on disc. I'm sure after this release there will be more to come, because we see examples here of a composer with a sure hand, an original voice, and a clear mastery of evocative melody and harmony. In most of the pieces performed here, Ben-Amots has adapted already existing works, mostly folk melodies, but his interpretation of them makes them clearly his own.
The first work on the disc, " Song of the Angels", is probably the most astonishing. Based on an ancient Askenazi prayer which Ben-Amots heard and then transcribed from memory, the work at first flutters on the edges of tonality, while the chorus is heard at a distance. The piece soon finds a tonal center, but retains a mystical aura, a feeling that the listener cannot quite put his finger on. This reviewer was spellbound.
The remaining pieces on thie disc, while, perhaps, not as bold, are equally evocative, charming and mysterious. The "Celestial Dialogues" pair a soloist with a klezmer-style clarinet, a coupling that works in the most heartfelt way with jaw-dropping beauty. And the nostalgia of the charming "Shetl Songs", arrangments of naive Yiddish folk songs for soprano and piano, round out a most satisfying program.
Why haven't we heard of Ben-Amots before? As stated above, I'm sure this won't be the last we hear of him. Five most deserved stars for this outstanding recording."