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CD Volume 1 - Shehecheyanu

 

Track 01: Shehecheyanu – Ralph Schlossberg

 

 
This lyrical setting of the familiar blessing has become a permanent fixture of the Kol Nidrei Service at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim. The Cantor introduces the main theme and then sings a gentle descant while the melody is adopted by the choir.
 
 

Track 02: L’dor Vador – Meir Finkelstein

 

 
Firmly established as one of the favourites of the Shaar Hashomayim Shabbat repertoire, this composition, sung the world over, was a favourite of the late Mildred Lande, to whom this recording is dedicated.
 
 

Track 03: Birkat Hachodesh – Meir Finkelstein

 

 
This setting of the text of the Prayer for the New Month has a number of interesting features: the optimism implicit in the harmonies as the Cantor expresses his wish for the coming month, “hachodesh hazeh”; the lyrical melody sung first by the Cantor as he prays for a long and peaceful life: “v’titen lanu chayim aruchim, chayim shel shalom” which is then taken over by the choir, before the Cantor makes a surprising entry at “chayim shel parnasa”; the harmonic word painting as the Cantor sings of the fear of heaven and fear of sin: “yirat shamayim v’yirat cheit”; the opening motifs of the song reappear at “chayim shel osher v’chavod” – “a life of wealth and honour”; the mood of anticipation and expectation at “chayim sheyimal’u mishalot libeinu l’tovah” – “a month in which our heartfelt desires will be fulfilled for the good”; a triumphal and optimistic “Amen, Selah”.
 
 

Track 04: Eitz Chayim – Tanchum Portnoy

 

 
One of many compositions sung at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim for returning the Torah scrolls to the ark.
 
 

Track 05: Uvnucho Yomar – Louis Lewandowski

 

 
This setting of the text by Louis Lewandowski contains a number of operatic elements. After an opening which contains many Lewandowski trademarks, the choir leads us through the words of “ba’avur David avdecha” – “for the sake of David, Your servant” finally stopping on the dominant, priming the listener for the sweeping melody introduced at “ki lekach tov” – “for I have given you a good teaching”. The choir makes a heartfelt plea at “chadeish yameinu k’kedem” – “renew our days as of old”, before the Cantor brings the piece to a thoughtful and gentle close.
 
 

Track 06: Sh’ma/Hu Elokeinu – Geoffrey Shisler

 

 
One of many settings of the Musaf K’dushah text sung at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim. This piece has a number of stylistic elements reminiscent of the compositions of Cantors Leib Glantz and Pierre Pinchik, including the modal tonalities and the distinctive melodic patterns.
 
 

Track 07: Sh’ma/Hu Elokeinu – Zeidl Rovner

 

 
A contrasting setting of the same text as in Track 6. After a declamatory choral Sh’ma, the Cantor introduces a melody with an unmistakable lilt. The choir adopts the melody while the Cantor floats a countermelody above them. The choir then introduces a distinctive rhythmic accompaniment for the original melody which expands and changes key. As the “fervour” dies down, the melody remains in the Choir while the Cantor returns to his original descant. At “v’hu yashmienu”, the music transitions to the recognisable prayer mode for Shabbat, and the piece ends with a familiar cantorial formula.
 
 

Track 08: Uvyom Hashabbat – Zvi Talmon

 

 
A composition that reflects the joy of the Sabbath as well as the phrygian and major tonalities of the Shabbat prayer mode.
 
 

Track 09: Yism’chu – Yaakov Talmud

 

 
A Chassidic melody – the perfect alignment of text and musical character.
 
 

Track 10: Sim Shalom – Samuel Alman

 

 
This setting of the Sim Shalom text has a number of notable elements: the gentle sonorities of the opening; the “shine” at the words “ki v’or panecha” – “the light of Your countenance”; the emotive Cantor’s line that soars above the choir at “utzdaka uvracha” – “righteousness and blessing” and then settles at “peace”: “v’shalom”; the elegant cantorial line and settling mood at “v’tov b’einecha” – “may it be good in Your eyes”; the hushed quality at “uvchol sha’ah bishlomecha” – “in every hour with Your peace”; the gentle phrasing at “ham’vareich et amo Yisraeil” – “who blesses His people Israel” that leads to the firm and climactic expression of the desire for peace.
 
 

Track 11: Pitchu Li – Shlomo Carlebach arr. Goldstein/Glass

 

 
An arrangement of the popular Carlebach setting of the text from Hallel containing much play-off between Cantor and Choir as well as innovative choral textures and harmonic creativity.
 
 

Track 12: Eil Melech Yosheiv (composer unknown)

 

 
The setting of this text begins with a distinctive choral passage that reflects the idea of approaching God with humility and trepidation before the music finds greater confidence and assurance. This opening leads to one of the most beloved melodies in Shaar Hashomayim’s High Holy Day repertoire, sung at S’lichot, Kol Nidrei and N’ilah services.
 
 

Track 13: Tzadik Hashem – Sholom Secunda

 

 
This version of Tzadik Hashem is based on the composition by Sholom Secunda, made famous by Richard Tucker. After a bold opening, the lyrical “shomeir Hashem et kol ohavav” – “God protects all who love Him” is directly followed by the threat of retribution: “v’et kol har’sha’im yashmid” – “all the wicked he will destroy”. Instantly the music transports us to a place of serenity and holiness leading to a rousing cadence.
 
 

Track 14: Rachamana – Geoffrey Shisler

 

 
Sung at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim’s Choral S’lichot and Kol Nidrei Services, this lyrical melody has a reflective quality which perfectly underlines the character of the text.
 
 

Track 15: Eil Malei Rachamim – Meir Finkelstein

 

 
Congregation Shaar Hashomayim’s Yizkor (Remembrance) Service is extremely refined and elegant. Two different settings of the Memorial prayer are sung. This somewhat unconventional yet extraordinary version of the prayer draws its inspiration from the mood of the words. It includes a mysterious section related to the names of the deceased contained in the Congregation’s Memorial book, a very distinctive moment in reference to the Garden of Eden: “b’gan eiden” and, unlike traditional settings of the text, concludes with an optimistic and luminous melody reflecting the desire for the deceased to find comfort and peace in their resting place.
 
 

Track 16: Avot for Yamim Nora’im – Naumbourg


 
As the Ark is opened for the beginning of the Cantor’s repetition of the Musaf service on the High Holy Days, this music fills the air with an appropriate atmosphere of grandeur and majesty. The piece draws on a number of sources, including the traditional mode for the High Holy Day Avot.
 
 

Track 17: Untaneh Tokef – Rosemarin/Alman/Glass


 
An iconic Shaar Hashomayim composition which includes music from a number of composers. From Jacob Rosemarin (choir director from 1942-1972), an opening and a recitative which is heard twice, both times leading in to an evocative melody. A dramatic middle section by Stephen Glass illustrating the sound of the shofar and the trembling angels. A gentle pastorale by Samuel Alman follows depicting the shepherd with his flock. The piece returns to the music of Stephen Glass with an introspective and original setting of the final words: “kein ta’avir v’tispor” – “so shall you cause to pass, count, calculate and consider the soul of all the living.”
 
 

Track 18: Kaddish Shaleim – Jacob Gottlieb


 
At Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, this famous and exhilarating setting in a Chassidic style, is reserved exclusively for S’lichot and High Holy Day Services and clearly underlines the grandeur of the text.
 
Saturday, February 23, 2019 18 Adar I 5779