Israel at 50, Jerusalem 3000--Celebrated On CD
[original title: Violin CD Celebrates Jerusalem 3000, Israel at 50]
AUFBAU 64:11 p. 13 May 22, 1998
by Leonard Lehrman
Copyright by Leonard Lehrman & AUFBAU
Among the many musical celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Israel, the recent compact disc "King David's Lyre," released two years ago as "a celebration of Jerusalem 3000" by the new 4-Tay Records of Amityville, deserves mention.
Violinist Zina Schiff includes works by 3 European-born composers who settled in Palestine in 1933, 1934 and 1935, respectively: Paul Ben-Haim (ne Frankenburger, b. 1897 in Munich, d. 1984), Hanoch Jacoby (b. 1909 in Koenigsberg), and Marc Lavry (b. 1903 in Riga, d. 1967).
Jacoby's work, completed the day Israel became a State (May 14, 1948), gives the item its title. Its cantorial theme and variations recall a similar contemporaneous set of piano variations on "Am Yisroel Chai" by Karel Salomon. Ben-Haim's passionate Sephardic Melody, #3 of his Three Songs Without Words, makes one long to hear the other two as well. Lavry's Three Jewish Dances are slighter works, but effective.
The major work on the album is the Sonata for Violin Solo by the English composer David Hush (b. 1956) who claims descent from "the Hushite family from the time of King David," and composed the ambitious work when he was all of 20, then waited another two decades for its premiere by Zina Schiff, to whom he dedicated it. Hush is also represented by his "Shir Eres"--Cradle Song (not "song cradle," as the notes say).
Having been a Jascha Heifetz protegee, Schiff also includes works by Jewish composers which her mentor made his specialties-- pieces by Alexander Krein, Joseph Achron, the violinists Efram Zimbalist and Mischa Elman (an arrangement of the popular "Eli Eli"), and Heifetz arrangements of both a Gershwin Prelude and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's evocative "Sea Murmurs," the last being the final piece Heifetz performed on his farewell recital of October 1972.
The tradition continues, as Schiff's teen-aged daughter Cherina Eisenberg, a pupil of Heifetz's daughter Josefa, accompanies her mother in the last two selections on the album. Cameron Grant is the confident accompanist for the others.
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