Lov­ing the Sacks tracks

He chose the mu­sic, wrote the words and even does (spo­ken) vo­cals. The Chief Rabbi plays a huge role in mak­ing the Is­rael trib­ute CD a suc­cess, says Paul Lester

The Jewish Chronicle - - ARTS&BOOKS -

VAR­I­OUS ARTISTS

Is­rael – Home Of Hope The Of­fice of The Chief Rabbi

RECORDED AND re­leased to co­in­cide with Is­rael’s 60th an­niver­sary, this dou­ble-CD col­lec­tion boasts 46 tracks, fea­tur­ing mu­sic to­gether with spo­ken-word pas­sages about the evo­lu­tion of the Jewish state writ­ten and read by the Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks. “The nar­rated pas­sages and the mu­sic go to­gether,” the Chief Rabbi says. “Noth­ing’s grafted on. It was con­ceived as an in­te­grated piece.”

Sir Jonathan chose all the mu­sic to match the nar­rated in­ter­ludes. He com­bines ex­ist­ing songs and film sound­tracks (such as the theme to 1960 movie Ex­o­dus by Ernest Gold) with new ar­range­ments, and brand new mu­sic spe­cially com­mis­sioned for the oc­ca­sion. “I’ve cho­sen some mu­sic (from the car­toon ex­trav­a­ganza Prince Of Egypt, which, un­like the orig­i­nal Whit­ney Hous­ton ver­sion, bears He­brew lyrics), and Hatik­vah, sung by Lionel Rosen­feld and The Shab­ba­ton that moves me,” he ex­plains. “We spent months trawl­ing around for ma­te­rial. Some I al­ready knew. Oth­ers were com­pletely new dis­cov­er­ies. But I think the six tracks recorded es­pe­cially for the album are the best things on it.”

The CD set is avail­able at free to mem­bers of syn­a­gogues un­der the aegis of the Chief Rabbi, or as a free down­load from www.home­ofhope.co.uk. All the artists in­volved worked for free, as a sort of birth­day gift to Is­rael.

The feted pro­ducer Trevor Horn (who cre­ated lav­ish sound­scapes for ev­ery­one from Frankie Goes To Hol­ly­wood to Seal) has adapted and ar­ranged the mu­sic for three of the tracks here: Ke-she-halev Bocheh ( When the Heart Weeps); When You Be­lieve

The Choir, with or­ches­tral flour­ishes cour­tesy of Horn.

“Clearly to get a world-class pro­ducer like Trevor Horn, I thank the Almighty for that,” says Sir Jonathan. “He’s done three re­mark­able pieces.”

Else­where, there is poignancy aplenty, such as on Im Eshkachech ( If I For­get You), sung by Lev Ta­hor, which oper- ates at the in­ter­face be­tween eu­phoric and mourn­ful. Mean­while Matisyahu, the Amer­i­can Cha­sidic beat­boxer and reg­gae star toasts his way through his own com­po­si­tion, Jerusalem, with pro­duc­tion from leg­endary US R’n’B pro­ducer Jimmy Dou­glass. The album may not in­stantly ap­peal to the Amy Wine­house crowd, but it is a mov­ing trib­ute to a re­source­ful peo­ple. “The songs are of­ten mourn­ful, but then, the story of the Jewish peo­ple was of­ten writ­ten in tears,” says the Chief Rabbi. “But there are some joy­ous pieces here where all the pain is trans­muted into hope. It’s sim­ple, en­joy­able, and in some cases deeply spir­i­tual mu­sic, straight from the Jewish soul.”

PHOTO: JOHN RIFKIN

Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks takes the mic and dis­plays his mu­si­cal gifts on Is­rael — Home of Hope

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