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CD Volume III: The High Holy Day Experience Disc 1

Track 01: INTRODUCTION/BAR’CHU – Traditional Nusach

Quoting the main musical themes of the High Holy Day evening services, this choral prelude not only creates an appropriate mood of majesty and reverence, but also provides a fitting introduction to the Cantor’s first musical statement, which would otherwise be an abrupt and stark beginning to the prayers.

Track 02: UVTZEIL K’NAFECHA – Louis Lewandowski




Track 03: TIKU – Stephen Glass

With strong cinematic overtones, this fanfare was composed in 1991 and clearly emphasises the injunction contained in Psalm 81.

Track 04: KIDDUSH – Stephen Glass



This setting adopts Alman’s overall structure and some melodic ideas, but includes an original setting of the prayer for wine, new material for the “vatiten lanu….b’ahava” text, a more dramatic treatment of “yom t’ruah” and a more substantial use of the traditional High Holy Day evening melody.

Track 05: EIN KAMOCHA – Israel Schorr

The piece opens with a distinctive melodic phrase from the Cantor (later intoned in unison by the choir for the start of the “Av Harachamim” paragraph). After some interplay between solo statements and choral responses, we hear a more lyrical passage: “Hashem melech, Hashem malach, Hashem yimloch l’olam va’ed”. For the final words “ki v’cha l’vad batachnu – for we trust in You alone”, the music moves in to the major key with a more classical sound and an air of optimism.

Track 06: L’CHA ADONAI – Julius Mombach

The repertoire of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim includes a number of pieces by Mombach. This setting is particularly effective in that it not only provides the right mood for the Torah procession, but for both “Rom’mu Hashem” sentences, it quotes the traditional High Holy Day motif for Sh’ma, which was just sung by the Cantor in front of the open Ark.

Track 07: HIN’NI – Meir Finkelstein



This arrangement for male voice choir is a faithful adaptation of the original composition scored for cantor, mixed choir and accompaniment. The cantor’s opening phrase for the word “Hin’ni” re-appears at “v’af al pi” and again at “ki ata” towards the end of the piece, providing a touchstone of familiarity. Finkelstein skillfully deploys a combination of traditional cantorial elements, innovative harmonies, lyrical melodic passages, and dramatic gestures (“shadai ayom v’nora – my God, Almighty, fearful and awesome”) interspersed with moments of tenderness (heyei na matzliach darki – give me success along the road that I tread”). Of significance is the way the music returns so naturally to the original starting key and opening musical material for the words “ki ata.” The piece ends with a declamatory and then a poignant treatment of “shomei’a t’filah – who listens to prayer.”



Track 08: CHATZI KADDISH – Nusach/Stephen Glass/Gideon Zelermyer



This arrangement contains all of the elements of the traditional nusach (such as the opening phrases and the “b’chayeichon” and y’hei sh’mei raba” melodies). However, subtle adjustments to the tune and the addition of choral backing at “v’yitpa’ar v’yitromam…” and “v’yit-halal sh’mei d’kudsha” help to illustrate the meaning of the text.



Track 09: AVOT – Samuel Naumbourg/Salomon Sulzer/Stephen Glass/Gideon Zelermyer



As the Ark is opened for the beginning of the Cantor’s repetition of the Musaf Amida, this music fills the air with an appropriate atmosphere of grandeur and majesty.

Track 10: ZOCHREINU L’CHAYIM – Philip S. Krohn






Track 11: M’CHALKEIL CHAYIM – Jack Rosenberg






Track 12: EIL DAR BAMAROM – Composer unknown





Track 13: UNTANEH TOKEF – Jacob Rosemarin/Samuel Alman/Stephen 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 for duet 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 You too pass Yours, count and number, and regard the soul of every living thing.”



Track 14: B’ROSH HASHANAH – Elli Jaffe



A recurring chorus which is easily sung by the congregation, gives way to passages of intense drama and passion, juxtaposed with moments of delicacy and vulnerability. The Cantor’s line and harmonic accompaniment draw their inspiration from the contrasts expressed in the text, most notably “mi yishafel umi yarum – who will be cast down and who raised up.” Throughout the piece, the listener is encouraged to hear the text as it was intended: a set of statements, not a set of questions.

Track 15: UTSHUVAH – Chaim Wasserzug






Track 16: EIN KITZVAH – Stephen Glass




After the choir’s opening declamatory statement, the Cantor is accompanied in a march-like passage which becomes more lyrical at the words “shimcha na’eh l’cha – Your name is befitting to You.”



Track 17: K’DUSHAH – Adapted from Samuel Naumbourg





Track 18: V’YE’ETAYU – Louis Lewandowski




This familar composition includes celebratory passages, as well as a much-loved romantic middle section, before returning to the opening themes. At “v’yakiru ko’ach – and they shall recognise Your majestic power,” this performance copies the recording of the great German Jewish tenor and Cantor, Joseph Schmidt, who died in a refugee camp in 1942.

Track 19: ALEINU – Nusach




This setting of the Aleinu prayer incorporates the traditional opening motifs as well as the common practice in some communities of using the melody more closely associated with High Holy Day Evening services. The music for “va’anachnu kor’im umishtachavim – but we bow down and worship” is especially ethereal and respectful.

Track 20: S’U SH’ARIM – Samuel Naumbourg




This is one of the most widely recognised and popular Jewish choral compositions. The unison declamatory opening (which returns later), gives way to a march-like accompaniment over which the soloist soars with a melody then taken up by the choir. Although this text from Psalm 24 appears in the Rosh Hashanah Musaf service, it is most commonly associated with the procession during which the Torah scrolls are returned to the Ark.

Track 21: V’AL Y’DEI AVADECHA – Zawel Kwartin




This is one of Kwartin’s most well-known compositions and exemplifies the style of “zogger” chazanut, a more declamatory approach. It ends with a dramatic setting of the Sh’ma Yisrael text.

Track 22: M’LOCH – Samuel Alman




A regal opening leads to a gentle waltz, a reprise of the opening phrases, followed by a heartfelt melody. Alman treats “v’taheir libeinu – purify our hearts” with particular reverence leading to the closing b’racha. In this arrangement, we hear the popular melody for “melech al kol ha’aretz,” before returning to Alman’s closing bars with its deliberate mimicry of a shofar blast.

Track 23: V’AL Y’DEI AVADECHA (ZACHARTI LACH) – Louis Lewandowski/Victor Schlesinger




The solution to there being limited opportunities to sing this text, yet numerous settings, is this arrangement that combines Lewandowski’s beloved composition with that of Victor Schlesinger.

Track 24: UVYOM SIMCHATCHEM – Paul Zim




A declamatory opening that brings out the festive nature of the New Year leads to a cantorial recitative that includes choral responses reminiscent of a shofar blast. A lilting melody in the cantor’s part follows for the “Ki ata shomei’a” section, which is then taken over by the choir, while the cantor responds with virtuosic phrases. The piece ends with another buoyant melody and a classic cantorial cadence.

Track 25: Ki VI YIRBU – Josef (Yossele) Rosenblatt




As we approach the end of the Musaf service, Rosenblatt offers us a toe-tapping and optimistic piece. After a choral section, the Cantor enters with a confident request “kotveinu b’seifer hachayim – write us down for good lives,” leading to a final passage with an innovative choral backing.

Track 26: HAYOM T’AMTZEINU – Nathan Mendelson


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Sunday, July 14, 2024 8 Tammuz 5784