Another First for Barclays Center: A Concert of Jewish Music
The arena he built in Brooklyn has hosted concerts of hip-hop, Latin salsa and reggae, not to mention performances by Dylan, Streisand and the Rolling Stones, but when the genre chosen was Jewish music, Bruce C. Ratner decided to take charge himself.
Mr. Ratner, a real estate developer who cut his musical teeth on cantorial singing at a synagogue in his hometown, Cleveland, is the de facto impresario of a concert at the Barclays Center announced on Tuesday that will feature the violinist Itzhak Perlman and Yitzchak Meir Helfgot, the cantor from the Park East Synagogue in Manhattan who has been a leader in the revival of Jewish liturgical music.
Eternal Echoes available on September 4, 2012 from Sony Masterworks
Features beloved liturgical and traditional works in new arrangements backed by chamber orchestra and klezmer musicians.
"It's so easy for him...it's just effortless," says legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman, explaining what led him to pursue his inspired collaboration with Israeli-born and celebrated Cantor Yitzchok Meir Helfgot. The melding of Perlman's soulful tone and virtuosic technique with Cantor Helfgot's spellbinding tenor come together perfectly on their new album, Eternal Echoes, available from Sony Masterworks on September 4, 2012.
While rooted in the cantorial-liturgical tradition of Jewish music, the ten tracks on Eternal Echoes encompass a wide range of sonic modes and musical moods. Perlman has said that his idea "was to do 'Jewish comfort music' – everything that I recognize from my childhood is in this program." The recording grew out of musical conversations with Helfgot and long-time collaborator Hankus Netsky. The two masters began to explore the confluences of sound between the violinist's famed classical technique (informed by a longtime interest in Jewish traditional music – Perlman has recorded a number of klezmer albums) with Helfgot's magnificent golden voice, which has made the cantor a star of today's liturgical music revival.
"I always find that there is a real communication between voice and violin," says Perlman, who also has recorded with Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. Like Perlman, Cantor Helfgot has performed globally to rave reviews. Says Helfot: "this was the fulfillment of a dream. When I was a child growing up I always knew about Itzhak Perlman, so of course I said yes, right away! I am very happy this dream became real."
To craft the arrangements and play the piano parts, Perlman called upon Netsky, with whom he had collaborated on past klezmer recordings. Netsky aimed for "a beautiful chamber orchestra sound, nothing too ostentatious, to really let the soloists shine." For five of the pieces he developed orchestral arrangements, and for the rest, other combinations that reflected the traditions of this music. "Cantorial music really developed almost like opera for people who didn't have opera," the pianist-arranger explains. "The text is the religious text, and you paint a picture with it musically."
These exquisitely crafted musical pictures include a stately and dramatic arrangement of "Sheyibone," a tune Perlman remembers from Shabbat morning prayers in Israel; the operatic "Shoyfer Shel Moshiakh," written by Abraham Goldfaden, father of the Yiddish theater; the shepherd's lament "Romanian Doyne"; "Dem Trisker Rebn's Nign," a song Perlman learned from his klezmer collaborators; "Mizmor L'Dovid," a setting of Psalm 23 which may be the most famous piece on the album; and "A Dudele," which comes from the folk rather than the liturgical tradition. The album wraps up with "Kol Nidre," the famous prayer for Yom Kippur, in a simple chamber-music setting that contrasts tastefully with past grandiose arrangements familiar to fans of singers like Richard Tucker and Jan Peerce.
As reflected in its title, Eternal Echoes evokes both history and permanence: "There is so much history in this music," says Perlman. "For me, every little musical groan or sob that happens is Jewish history. It makes you think."
ABOUT ITZHAK PERLMAN:
Israeli-American violinist Itzhak Perlman is widely considered one of the most accomplished violin virtuosi in the world. Since making his Carnegie Hall debut in 1963, he has performed throughout the world with every major orchestra, recorded dozens of albums, and received many awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in the recording arts in 2008.
ABOUT CANTOR YITZCHOK MEIR HELFGOT:
Born in Tel Aviv, Cantor Helfgot has become a leader in today's revival of Jewish liturgical music since his concert debut at the age of 23. He is both a recording artist and a highly sought-after singer at concerts and Shabbatot. He has performed across six continents, drawing record crowds, in addition to serving as Chief Cantor of the Park East Synagogue in New York City.