CD Re­views DJ Koze Presents Pampa Vol. 1; Ad­nan Oth­man’s Ber­shukor; two al­bums called Sephardic Jour­ney

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Sephardic Jour­ney: Wan­der­ings of the Span­ish Jews (Avie) Be­tween the New Mex­ico His­tory Mu­seum’s ex­hi­bi­tion Frac­tured Faiths and the Santa Fe Desert Cho­rale’s mu­si­cal pro­gram Sephardic Le­gacy, the sum­mer is awash in the her­itage of the Sephardim, de­scended from the Jews who lived on the Ibe­rian Penin­sula prior to their ex­pul­sion in the late 15th cen­tury. Two re­cent, sim­i­larly ti­tled CDs add to the Sephardic discog­ra­phy. Sephardic Jour­ney: Wan­der­ings of the Span­ish Jews is the lat­est recorded de­light from the Cleve­land-based Apollo’s Fire Baroque Orches­tra. The group is joined by its cho­ral com­ple­ment, Apollo’s Singers, and sev­eral vo­cal soloists, all di­rected by harp­si­chordist Jean­nette Sor­rell with as­sis­tance for this project from Nell Snaidas, a noted spe­cial­ist in this reper­toire. Lis­ten­ers have grown to ex­pect not only high per­for­mance stan­dards from this ensem­ble but also com­pelling pro­gram­ming, both of which are de­liv­ered here. The reper­toire is ar­ranged in the­matic groups of songs — con­cern­ing Jerusalem, re­lat­ing to the tem­ple, about love and ro­mance, for the Sab­bath, and for feasts and cel­e­bra­tions. Many of the 20 tracks are ar­range­ments of tra­di­tional songs, in­ter­preted ei­ther with in­ef­fa­ble melan­choly or with a rhythmic flair we are likely to as­so­ciate with the Mid­dle East. Ac­com­pa­ni­ments in­clude such re­gional in­stru­ments as the oud, and the pieces are some­times linked through in­stru­men­tal mod­u­la­tions that yield a free-flow­ing sense of con­nec­tiv­ity. Six of the tracks fea­ture art mu­sic, in­stru­men­tal as well as vo­cal, com­posed by Sala­m­one Rossi, the most prom­i­nent Jewish com­poser of the early Baroque, who pro­vided a jump-start to sy­n­a­gogue mu­sic af­ter 1500 years of ne­glect. Here Apollo’s Fire is on na­tive ter­ri­tory, with three of his lav­ish set­tings from the Songs of Solomon, pub­lished in 1623, sound­ing very much like Mon­teverdi (one of the ensem­ble’s spe­cial­ties), as in his vi­brant poly­choral Hal­leluyah. ‘Ashrei ‘Ish (Psalm 112). — James M. Keller

CAVATINA DUO Sephardic Jour­ney (Çedille) Many Sephardic melodies tug at the heart­strings, their modal con­tours be­ing im­bued with nos­tal­gia and even mourn­ful­ness that we may hear as sug­gest­ing the di­as­pora through which they were spread be­yond the con­fines of Ibe­ria. The Cavatina Duo, com­pris­ing flutist Eu­ge­nia Mo­liner and gui­tarist De­nis Az­abagic, in­vited five mod­ern com­posers to give some of the songs new life in the con­cert hall by writ­ing cham­ber works for them to play alone or with col­leagues (here vi­o­lin­ist De­sirée Ruh­strat, cel­list David Cun­liffe, and the Avalon String Quar­tet, de­pend­ing on the piece). Their Sephardic Jour­ney in­cludes works by Alan Thomas, Joseph V. Williams, Car­los Rafael Rivera, David Leis­ner, and Clarice As­sad (both of the lat­ter em­ploy­ing string quar­tet in their or­ches­tra­tion). Leis­ner’s at­mo­spheric Love Dreams of the Ex­ile draws one back for re­peated lis­ten­ing; the sigh­ing mi­cro­tones of its first move­ment, a med­i­ta­tion on the song “Yo bolí,” add a layer of deep res­ig­na­tion within the calmly flow­ing fig­u­ra­tion that sur­rounds them. As­sad’s “Sephardic Suite,” con­ceived as a kind of mu­si­cal story telling, is full of con­trast and in­ci­dent, trac­ing a vague but en­er­gized nar­ra­tive about a young woman who loses her in­no­cence, lets go of an old in­fat­u­a­tion, and gets in­volved in a new one. — J.M.K.

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