Richard Locker, Cello  With Martha Locker, Piano | Jewish Cello Masterpieces Volume II

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Jewish Cello Masterpieces Volume II

by Richard Locker, Cello With Martha Locker, Piano

Volume II of Jewish Cello Masterpieces features Richard Locker’s masterful renditions of a wonderful array of Jewish music beautifully recorded and mastered by multiple Grammy winner Tom Lazarus.
Genre: Classical: Programmatic music
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. B'rosh Hashano
Richard Locker, Cello
2:39 album only
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2. Canzonetta
Richard Locker, Cello
2:19 album only
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3. Hebrew Melody
Richard Locker, Cello With Martha Locker, Piano
5:11 album only
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4. Hebrew Lullaby
Richard Locker, Cello With Martha Locker, Piano
2:37 album only
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5. Scher
Richard Locker, Cello With Martha Locker, Piano
1:55 album only
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6. Kaddisch (Deux Mélodies Hébraïques )
Richard Locker, Cello With Martha Locker, Piano
3:56 album only
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7. L’énigma Éternelle
Richard Locker, Cello With Martha Locker, Piano
1:16 album only
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8. Eli Zion
Richard Locker, Cello With Martha Locker, Piano
4:36 album only
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9. Boruch K'vod
Richard Locker, Cello
1:36 album only
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10. Bo'i Veshalom
Richard Locker, Cello
1:38 album only
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11. Yoseif
Richard Locker, Cello
1:29 album only
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12. Mosheh
Richard Locker, Cello
1:54 album only
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13. Vehoyu Limshiso
Richard Locker, Cello
1:30 album only
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14. Twelve Variations On a Theme for Handel's Oratorio, Judas Maccabeus
Richard Locker, Cello With Martha Locker, Piano
13:32 album only
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15. Ständchen
Richard Locker, Cello With Martha Locker, Piano
4:12 album only
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16. Élégie
Richard Locker, Cello With Martha Locker, Piano
2:03 album only
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17. Mon Cœur S'ouvre À Ta Voix, From the Opera Samson and Delilah
Richard Locker, Cello With Martha Locker, Piano
6:18 album only
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18. A Mother's Prayer
Richard Locker, Cello With Martha Locker, Piano
2:47 album only
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19. Doina & Street Melody
Richard Locker, Cello With Martha Locker, Piano
4:58 album only
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20. Dos Yiddishe Lied
Richard Locker, Cello With Martha Locker, Piano
5:57 album only

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Cellist Richard Locker continues his extensive and highly acclaimed survey of Jewish music with a varied and unusual selection of pieces. There are 20 works (over 72 minutes of music) including idiomatically Jewish classical music, Yiddish theatre, and Klezmer songs, four classical works: Beethoven's Judas Maccabeus Variations, Saint Säens' Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta from the opera Samson and Delilah, and two songs, Franz Schubert's Ständchen and Jules Massenet's Elegie. (The Schubert and Massenet were frequently sung by Yossele Rosenblatt and other great cantors in both Hebrew and Yiddish.) Critics have been unanimous in commenting on the fine recorded sound of the CD.

Reviews for JEWISH CELLO MASTERPIECES VOLUME II
...this is a genuinely lovely disc...lovingly played and well recorded...Richard Locker plays with a real feeling for the kind of inflection that this music requires, and his tightly focused (but never dry) sound keeps the music from getting maudlin. Critics like to speak about music or music-making that has genuine sentiment without becoming sentimental, and I think this disc walks that line perfectly...Well balanced sound, neither too close nor too distant, rounds out the production of a very pleasurable CD. Henry Fogel

...the Locker's reading of the variations is an absolute delight. Tempos and rhythms are played with an elastic, dance-like spring, and Richard s full-throated cello tone projects Beethoven s melodic lines in perfect silhouette against the engaging keyboard part, so deftly choreographed by Martha. You may have heard many performances of this piece, but you will hear none better than this one by Richard and Martha Locker. Locker's solo cello transcriptions of the cantorial cantillations are exquisitely played and truly moving. Jerry Dubins

Locker's eloquence, depth of feeling and richness of tone are matched in those pieces that call for accompanist by his niece Martha on piano, but never to more amazing effect as in Ravel's Two Hebrew Melodies and Zeitlin's Eli Zion. Locker also makes the Five Cantorial Solos of Solomon Rozumni deeply felt soliloquies...This is an excellent, well-played disc, recommended to fanciers of the cello as well as those who most appreciate this kind of music. Lynn René Bayley

Richard and Martha Locker, who play cello and piano, have given us another delightful recording of Jewish music to enjoy on festive days. Their first Jewish Cello Masterpieces was on the Top Ten List at New York's Jewish Week when it came out in 2003, and I am sure that the second volume will be equally well received....Although we cannot be sure that the great cantor Solomon Rozumni composed all his solos, he most certainly sang them many times. Played on the cello, they add unusual musical colors to this fine recording. Pianist Martha Locker, who has merely accompanied the Achron, Ravel, and Zeitlin works, really comes into her own territory with the Beethoven Variations on a Theme from Handel s Judas Maccabeus. Here, her virtuosity is let loose in all its pianistic glory. Her fingers flow over the keys with myriad gradations of tone while the cello responds with equal virtuosity. These musicians seem to think as one and they play with a single mind...Both cellist and pianist are first-rate virtuosos and their performances on this disc are exquisite. The sound is pristine and the ambience gives the listener the feeling of being in an intimate concert hall with good acoustics. No one who is interested in Jewish music should miss out on this beautiful recording. Maria Nockin

--Fanfare 2014

Liner notes by Cantor Sam Weiss

B’rosh hashono - Joseph ‘Yossele’ Rosenblatt (1882-1933)
An unaccompanied cello brings to life a magnificent solo cantorial recitative penned by the undisputed “King of Cantors” during the Golden Age of this art form. Yossele Rosenblatt’s stunningly unique voice garnered worldwide fame thanks to his extensive career in the recording studio and on the Jewish and general concert stages, alongside his many acclaimed synagogue appearances. He recorded 182 pieces and would have recorded many more, had he not died at the age of 51 while being filmed for a documentary in Israel. The vast majority of the records were of his own synagogue works for cantor and/or male choir. The latter numbered nearly 500 pieces, including the 26 solo recitatives in his only printed collection, published in Hamburg in 1907 and reprinted in New York in 1927—in which the current piece appears. Rosenblatt recorded only seven items from this book, and “B’rosh hashono” was not among them; Richard Locker’s interpretation may well be its first commercial recording. The composition combines operatic recitative and declamation with a variety of improvisational cantorial styles, and—most typical of “Yossele”—it has many short sequential passages, which helps his pieces remain in the listener’s ear. Such sequences are particularly apt for a setting of this disquieting High Holiday liturgical text, with its many parallel phrases:

On Rosh Hashanah it is written; on Yom Kippur it is sealed:
How many lives will end, how many will begin.
Who will live, who will die; who will die naturally and who suddenly—
Whether by fire or water, by sword or beast,
By famine or drought, by earthquake or epidemic …
… Who will live peacefully, who will suffer;
Who will live in poverty, who will live in wealth;
Who will sink to the bottom, and who will rise to the top.

Four works by Joseph Achron (1886-1943)
In 1908 a group of former students of Rimsky-Korsakov formed the St. Petersburg Society for Jewish Folk Music. Its aim was to research and collect Jewish music in Russia with the goal of educating the public, as well as to compose and perform original art music based on the collected material. A virtuoso violinist, Joseph Achron was also among the most prolific composers in the Society, whose activities in several cities and in various forms weathered wars and political upheavals to last through 1929. Arnold Schoenberg thought very highly of Achron’s works, and he was a prime exponent of the New Jewish School composers such as Ernest Bloch, Solomon Rosowsky, Leo Zeitlin, and Joachim Stutschewsky.



a. Canzonetta, Op.52 #2
Originally published in 1923 for voice and piano, this canzonetta was also scored by Achron for violin or cello. The lyrics are from “September on the Avenue” by Hebrew poet Avraham Ben-Yitzhak (1883-1950).

Dreamy lights / pale lights / sink at my feet
Soft shadows / tired shadows / caress my path
From bare boughs / a gentle breeze gives voice / then a hush
The final leaf / floats downward / trembles a moment / then silence

Despite the melancholy tone of the poem, most traces of sadness disappear in the slightly faster instrumental version. Indeed, the many sequential phrases and the occasional leaps to the octave lend a Hasidic flavor to the piece—whose inconclusive final measure sounds the only note of despondency.

b. Hebrew Melody, Op.33
Written in 1911 to celebrate his admission to the St. Petersburg Society, it was among Achron first Jewish compositions. It has also turned out to be his most performed work to this day. Like the “Hebrew Lullaby” and the “Scher” which follow, the “Hebrew Melody” is a setting of an older folk motive, in this case a Hasidic tune of yearning. An authentic Hasidic melody (or nigun) is generally wordless, even if it later happens to acquire a text. A deeply felt instrumental piece such as this can be its apotheosis.

c. Hebrew Lullaby, Op.35 #2
The melody for this piece comes from the Yiddish lullaby “Unter dem kinds vigele,” and unlike the Canzonetta, Achron’s only setting of it was for violin and piano. This lullaby text was also famously used by Abraham Goldfaden as the basis for his song “Rozhinkes mit mandlen.”

Under baby’s cradle stands a little white goat;
The goat went off to trade in raisins and almonds.
Raisins and almonds are very sweet,
My baby will stay nice and healthy.

The brooding mood of Achron’s interpretation seems to ignore the metaphors of sweetness and health and speculates instead on the wandering goat’s uncertain future.

d. Scher, Op.42
Utilizing yet another Jewish folk theme with strong Hasidic overtones, this dance maintains a consistent joyousness throughout. A Scher is a common dance form in the Klezmer idiom, wherein the melody usually serves to propel the rhythm forward. But Achron’s is not a typical instrumental dance; rather, it is a dance-version of a contemplative nigun whose introspective qualities can still be detected in the plaintive tonalities and chasing phrases.

Deux mélodies hébraïques - Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

a. Kaddisch
Although commissioned by a soprano in the St. Petersburg Opera Company and first sung by her in 1914 (in Paris, with the composer at the piano), the promise of this distinctive arrangement of the Jewish doxology seems fulfilled with Richard Locker’s cello in the solo role. The haunting traditional High Holidays melody of Aramaic Kaddish prayer (“Magnified and sanctified be the name of God throughout the world which He has created according to His will…”) entwines beautifully with Ravel’s spare piano commentary, and soars into its magnificent conclusion unencumbered by the weight of the venerable words.

b. L’énigme éternelle
Just as the Kaddish is not a prayer in Hebrew but in Aramaic, this second “Hebrew Melody” is not a Hebrew song but a short Yiddish one. Ravel’s appellation “hébraïques”—much like Achron’s “Hebrew”—is thus better translated as “Jewish.” The original Yiddish lyrics say:

Everybody asks the same old question: “Tra-la Tra-di-ri-di-dom?”
To which they answer: “Tra-di-ri-di-day-dom Tra-di! Tra-di-ri-di-dom.”
Alternatively, one could say: “Ya-di-dam!”
But the old question remains: “Tra-la Tra-di-ri-di-dom?”

This disarming folksong reminds us that the really big questions have no answers. This idea comes across even without hearing any words, being implicit in the contours of the delicate brief melody and in its A-B-C-A form. At the same time, the song also belongs to the genre of 19th Century satires aimed at Hasidic rebbes who supposedly imparted deep wisdom simply by singing an appropriate wordless nigun. To properly appreciate this aspect one would indeed need to hear the typical Hasidic vocables, but ironically these are missing even from Ravel’s vocal setting—which homogenizes all of the vocables to a generic “tra-la-la-la-la.”

Eli Zion - Leo Zeitlin (1884-1930)
The title of this composition refers to a famous liturgical lament for the Fast of the Ninth of Av:

Weep, O Jerusalem and your cities,
Like a woman in childbirth, like a young widow…

This hymn has an equally famous synagogue chant, but it is not the one that Leo Zeitlin used for his main theme. Rather, his is an obscure melody published by ethnomusicologist Zusman Kiselgof (1878-1939), a fellow member of the St. Petersburg Society for Jewish Folk Music (who also provided Joseph Achron with many of his thematic ideas). Zeitlin combines this dirge with another liturgical chant, the pentatonic cantillation used for the books of Ecclesiastes, Ruth, and Song of Songs—which also appears in Kiselgof’s collection. “Eli Zion” is one of only three pieces on this CD (along with Beethoven’s and Massenet’s works) that were originally written for cello, and it is the one on which this active and versatile Russian Jewish musician’s fame largely rested during his lifetime. Due to Zeitlin’s obscurity upon his death shortly after migrating to America, authorship of this piece was erroneously ascribed to Russian violinist Lev Tseitlin. In 1990 cellist Paula Eisenstein Baker verified the real composer when she discovered two measures of the cello theme engraved on Leo Zeitlin’s New York City tombstone.

Five cantorial solos attributed to Solomon Rozumni (1866-1904)
Solomon Rozumni was considered one of the greatest cantors in late 19th and early 20th Century Odessa, when it was the world’s “cantorial capital.” The little information we have about his life is anecdotal and hagiographical (as in the book Legendary Voices by Cantor Samuel Vigoda), but in 1930 there appeared a volume of 86 cantorial pieces of varying length and character entitled Shirei Rozumni (“Songs of Rozumni”), subtitled “A volume of recitatives sung by the late Solomon Rozumni.” The book’s glowing introduction by composer and conductor Samuel Alman, who heard Rozumni in Odessa, implies that most if not all of the book represents his creativity. Subsequent research, however, has called that claim into question. For example, Vigoda attests that “Rozumni was not that much of a composer” and that his most famous recitatives were written for him by an older Odessa cantor, Moshe Ber Kuritiansky. Most problematic, however, is the fact that some of the pieces in Shirei Rozumni are strongly related to works by other cantor-composers such as Yossele Rosenblatt and Yehoshua Samuel Weisser (1888-1952). Some experts conjecture that the manuscripts came from the library of Yakovkin, Rozumni’s last choirmaster. Thus these five pieces are intimately tied to—if possibly not composed by—the legendary Solomon Rozumni.

a. Boruch k’vod
Taken as a whole, the five Rozumni compositions have a more arioso quality compared to the dramatic recitative style of Rosenblatt, with its tonal modulations, sequential development and higher tessitura. Nevertheless, each of the pieces in this group has a distinctive character and a special beauty that explain the effect that Rozumni had on his congregants. Noteworthy in “Boruch k’vod,” for example, is the interplay between major and minor tonalities in the final measures.

The angels proclaim: “Blessed be the glory of God from His abode.”
From His abode may He turn with compassion and be gracious
to the people who evening and morning testify to the unity of His Name.
Twice every day they lovingly recite the Shema prayer:
“Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.”

b. Bo’i vesholom
The contrast between the first section in major and the second in minor is more pronounced here, yet the mood remains serene throughout. The tonal change is a gesture of balance rather than a dramatic turn. The drama is reserved to the very end, in the flatted cadential note.

Crown of your husband—come in peace, gladness and joy
to the people who have kept their faith.
Enter, bride! Enter, bride! Come my beloved,
Let us greet the bride and welcome the Sabbath.

c. Yoseif
Progressing in a more traditional cantorial style, this and the following recitative would have struck Rozumni’s listeners as the least exotic, or the most Jewish-sounding of the five. Despite their brevity, “Yoseif” and “Mosheh” are also interesting miniature compositions.

May the Lord make you and your offspring increasingly prosperous.
You are blessed by the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.
The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth He gave to humankind.
The dead cannot praise the Lord—
not those who have descended into silence.
Rather, we will bless the Lord henceforth and for ever, Halleluyah!
(PSALMS 115:14-18)

d. Mosheh
The creativity and tonal richness in this setting comes from alternating between two contrasting traditional synagogue scales native to this prayer (known as the Mi shebeirach and Hashem moloch modes). Attentive worshipers greatly admired cantors who knew their way around such modes (known collectively as nusach) and matched contrasting musical ideas to corresponding shifts of tone in the text.

Moses and Aaron among His priests, and
Samuel among those who invoke His Name,
they called upon the Lord and He answered them.
In the pillar of cloud did He speak to them—
They marked His testimonies and the statutes that He gave them.
Lord our God, You answered them; a forgiving God were You to them,
though You avenged their misdeeds.
Exalt the Lord our God, and prostrate yourselves at His holy mountain,
for the Lord our God is holy.
(PSALMS 99:6-9)

e. Vehoyu limshiso

Particularly in contrast to “Yoseif” and “Moshe,” this setting is the most Western-sounding of the five, and a fitting conclusion to this solo cello suite. Liturgically, the passage immediately precedes “Bo’i vesholom” in the Friday night service:

Your scavengers will be downtrodden, and
those who would devour you will flee;
Your God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom over his bride.
Enter, bride! Enter, bride! Come my beloved,
Let us greet the bride and welcome the Sabbath.

Twelve Variations on a Theme from Handel’s Oratorio, Judas Maccabeus
- Ludwig van Beethoven (1770- 1827) WoO 45
While the Jewish festival of Chanukah is an important celebration of the tales recounted in Judas Maccabeus, the book itself was never canonized into the Hebrew Bible. One of the songs in Handel’s oratorio based on that book, however, did “enter the canon” of 20th century Chanukah music: the triumphal chorus “See, the Conquering Hero Comes.” Whether in the original English or in two Hebrew translations by Henry Coopersmith and Aaron Ashman, Handel’s melody is an attractive part of the seasonal celebration. The melody had strong appeal in Beethoven’s times as well, as attested by this extended composition for cello and piano written in 1796. Perhaps more than any other on the CD, this track showcases the piano skills of Martha Locker. The cello waits until Variation #10 to sing the full theme. Variation #4, which opens by recasting the melody in minor—common enough in the theme and variations literature— seems to evoke additional “Jewish” sentiments in the context of this recording.

Ständchen - Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Schubert wrote this “Serenade” on a summer Sunday in 1826, inspired by chance encounter with a poem by Ludwig Rellstab:

My songs quietly implore you through the night;
Down to the silent wood, my love, come to me!
The treetops whisper in the light of the moon;
Don’t be afraid, my love, no-one will observe us.
Can you hear the nightingales? Oh! They implore you,
their sweet lament pleads with you on my behalf.
They understand the yearning I feel, they know love’s torture;
With their silvery notes they touch every soft heart.
Let them touch yours, too, sweet love: hear my plea!
Trembling I await you, come, bring me bliss.

Two years later, in the last year of his life, Schubert composed a Hebrew setting of Psalm 92 for the prominent Viennese cantor, Salomon Sulzer. As if to return the favor, “Ständchen” was among those secular melodies that some cantors liked to graft into their services. In 1914 a translation by famed American modernist Yiddish poet Moyshe Leyb Halpern (1886–1932) breathed more substantial Jewish life into this popular art-song. Halpern did not slavishly replicate the German words, but crafted fresh idiomatic Yiddish phrases which might have transported Jewish listeners to an Eastern-European shtetl instead of 19th Century Vienna. Republished in 1928, it was a staple of Yiddish singers’ repertoires.

Élégie - Jules Massenet (1842–1912)
Originally composed in 1866 as a “Mélodie” in a group of ten piano pieces, in 1872 it was included in Massenet’s score of Les érinnyes as a solo for cello and orchestra. In 1875 Massenet rewrote it for voice and piano with lyrics by Louis Gallet, and transcriptions for other instruments followed shortly thereafter, by the composer as well as by others. At the end of the 19th Century “Élégie” in its various forms became one of the most popular European melodies, and versions for violin and piano found their way into many American Jewish homes via publishers catering to this market. In 1917 the world-famous Cantor Joseph Rosenblatt recorded a Hebrew translation dedicated to the victims of World War I, which was capitalized in 1921 by a sheet music edition featuring a full photograph of a jaunty “Reb. Yossele Rosenblatt” — who also recorded a Yiddish version in 1925. To leave no doubt about the song’s Jewish bona fides, on side B of the 1917 recording he sings the most popular Yiddish song of the time, “Eili Eili,” and the 1925 record is paired with the classic “A Yiddishe Mamme.”

Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix, from the opera Samson and Delilah
- Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)
The well-known story from the Book of Judges of Samson, the Philistines, and Delilah inspired Saint-Saëns to compose a work on the model of Handel’s biblical oratorios, but the idea eventually turned into a full-scale opera which premiered in 1877. At the end of the second act Delilah still has not learned the secret of Samson’s great strength, but he has declared his love to her—which occasions this passionate aria sung by Delilah.

My heart opens to your voice
like flowers open to the kisses of dawn.
But my beloved, to better dry my tears,
let your voice speak again.
Tell me that you are returning to Delilah forever.
Repeat to my affection the promises of old,
those promises that I loved.
Respond to my tenderness; intoxicate me!
[DELILAH, DELILAH, I LOVE YOU!]

Like the grains of wheat that wave in the breeze,
so my heart trembles, ready to be consoled
by your voice that is so dear to me.
The arrow is less swift to bring death
than is your lover to fly into your arms.
Respond to my tenderness; intoxicate me!
[DELILAH, DELILAH, I LOVE YOU!]

A Mother’s Prayer - David Meyerowitz (1867–1943)
Even before traveling from Latvia to America in 1880 at age 13, David Meyerowitz was a busker for handouts. Singing his own instant Yiddish creations or a hit song of the day, he loved moving people to tears with his voice and imagination. He eventually made a career in American Yiddish theatre by churning out song after song, even complete “operettas,” without ever learning the fundamentals of music. This was made possible by teaming up in 1904 with arranger and publisher Jack Kammen, who published this song in 1921. As was to be expected in a culture built on the immigrant experience, the theme of mother-child or husband-wife separation was common to countless dramas. Many were the musical hits with mamme in their titles—there are even several surviving examples with the phrase “A Mother’s Prayer.” This one is from a play called Every Woman’s Desire. Musically, the song typifies the poignant showstoppers of the day whose tessitura hovered around the fifth note in the scale, a vocal “sweet spot” for an actor trying to be heard in the balconies. What the lyrics lack in poetry is compensated for in passion:

Dark and empty is my life, I cannot stop crying;
They say there’s a God up above, so my God please explain:
Why is my mother so distraught? Who is my father?
Why don’t I know whose child I am?

Who can feel the pain in a mother’s prayer?
Only the heavens, the angels, the One God!
Youth passes and one’s hair turns grey
When we don’t have a mother’s prayer.

Oh mothers, you are so sacred;
God placed His soul within you for one reason alone—
That we children should be well and live long.
This is every woman’s desire!

Doina & Street Melody - trad., arr. Edward Huys Jones
A slow improvisational musical form associated with Romania but heard in other East-European and even Near-Eastern countries, the doina also entered the klezmer repertoire. While improvisational, it is not unstructured; individual musicians follow a favorite “head chart” that carries them from section to section. The particular doina version heard here was adopted and popularized by klezmer musician and band leader Abe Schwartz (1881–1963). Not surprisingly, cantorial and klezmer improvisations have had an influence on each other. (Brief snatches of this connection can be heard in Rozumni’s “Yoseif” and “Moshe.”) The fact that the longer held notes of a doina tend to be the fifth note in the scale demonstrates its affinity with vocal styles.

In the klezmer tradition a doina is usually followed by a rhythmic selection. In this case we hear “Der gasn nigun,” a tender “street tune” associated with the shtetl practice of musicians accompanying a newly married couple in a procession towards their home.

Dos yiddishe lied - Sholom Secunda (1894–1977)
The realms of the Yiddish theatre and the synagogue were intertwined in music as well as in personnel. Most of the important Second Avenue composers and singers began their careers as shul choristers, while the scales, melodies, and even texts of the liturgy regularly rang out from the stages of New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago. No one embodied this blending of sacred and secular sounds better than Sholom Secunda, who was a synagogue alto soloist and a touring cantor—all in his childhood—and then a conductor and reigning 20th Century composer whose voluminous output for the theatre and synagogue eclipsed his one worldwide hit “Bei Mir Bistu Sheyn.” The mix of cantorial, folk, and popular Jewish styles in “Dos yiddishe lied” (“Jewish Song”) encapsulates the variety of Jewish themes heard on this recording. The original poignant text by lyricist Anshel Schorr (1871-1942, son and brother of famed cantors) illustrates how Yiddish theatre provided spiritual uplift to audiences who no longer attended the synagogue. In a similar vein perhaps, the soulful playing of Richard and Martha Locker convey the beautiful sentiments of the song without the Yiddish lyrics and Hebrew prayers:

Though a Jew be poor, he is still rich with spiritual treasures.
He is patient, his faith is strong, he survives the greatest calamity.
He is considered of royal pedigree, and many think he’s fantastically wealthy,
Yet no country welcomes him.

Always lamenting and crying, even his laugher is mixed with tears.
If things ever do go well for him, he is quickly reminded that he is a Jew,
And is yet again sent away packing, in search of a new home.

All nations rowdily celebrate the New Year with song and dance;
But on Rosh Hashanah, a Jew sits in the synagogue with great solemnity,
Hearing from his cantor a very different type of song:

“THOUGH LACKING IN MERIT, I STAND IN TREPIDATION BEFORE THEE,
O GOD OF ISRAEL’S PRAISES. I HAVE COME TO PLEAD ON BEHALF OF
THY PEOPLE, WHO HAVE APPOINTED ME…”

And in every synagogue on Yom Kippur Eve
You will hear the cantor chant the Kol Nidre declaration:

“ALL MANNER OF ILL-CONSIDERED VOLUNTARY VOWS AND PLEDGES
FROM THIS YOM KIPPUR UNTIL THE NEXT WE HEREBY REGRET…”

But there are times when the Jewish people are quite merry,
Singing without fear and with great joy,
Like on the holiday of Simchat Torah:

“CELEBRATE AND REJOICE ON SIMCHAT TORAH; BRING HONOR TO THE TORAH.
ITS VALUE IS BEYOND ALL WEALTH, MORE PRECIOUS THAN JEWELS.
TAKE PRIDE IN OUR TORAH; IT IS OUR STRENGTH AND OUR LIGHT…”

~ ~ ~

Cellist Richard Locker is well known to music lovers for his distinguished and expressive performances. A top seller in its genre among independent recordings, his CD Jewish Cello Masterpieces was in The New York Jewish Week 2003 Top Ten list, and was nominated for the Just Plain Folks “Best CD of 2004” award. After winning awards from the American Bach Foundation and the National Arts Club he toured the world as soloist and chamber musician and was a principal cellist in the Mostly Mozart Festival and New York City Ballet orchestras. He has recorded more than 150 major film scores and played on thousands of recording sessions with hundreds of artists such as Leonard Bernstein, Pinchas Zuckerman, Wynton Marsalis, McCoy Tyner and Elvis Costello. He taught cello at Princeton University and has a private teaching studio in New York City. Richard Locker performs on a fine 1780 Neapolitan cello by Nicolo Gagliano, with a Dominique Peccatte bow.

Pianist Martha Locker performs frequently as a soloist in the United States and abroad. She has appeared as soloist with the Pittsburgh, Knoxville, and Westmoreland Symphony Orchestras, with Orchestra Nova, the New Juilliard Ensemble, the New York University Symphony Orchestra, and at the Kyoto International Music Festival. An avid chamber musician and performer of contemporary music, she plays regularly at Juilliard, New York University, Bargemusic, Symphony Space, Greenwich House, and Bloomingdale House. She was a fellow of the Tanglewood Music Center and participated in the Sarasota, Chautauqua, and Eastern Music Festivals. She has been a guest artist of the NYU Summer String Quartet Institute, the University of Maryland Summer Percussion Seminar, and the Alessi Trombone Seminar. Martha Locker holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Juilliard School and an Advanced Certificate in Music Education from NYU. Her teachers include Peter Serkin, Emanuel Ax, Jacob Lateiner, Jerome Lowenthal and Miyoko Lotto. She is an adjunct faculty member at NYU and at the Packer Collegiate Institute.


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