“Sun and Rain” (Zun mit a regn) is a metaphor for laughter and tears - part and parcel of Yiddish music.
It is the opening line of Shostakovich’s song cylcle From Jewish Folk Poetry and a fitting motto for a program dedicated to the three Russian composers and friends Mieczyslaw Weinberg (Moisei Vainberg) (1919-1996), Veniamin Basner (1925-1996) and Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) who supported each other even in the worst of times.
World War Two and the reign of terror in the Soviet Union had a deep impact on them. Many of their works are inspired by Jewish themes. At a time when Jewish culture was taboo, it was often years before the works could be performed. Thanks to Ayslu Basner, Per Skans and Julia Broido, we were able to locate unknown scores by Weinberg.
The “Sun and Rain” CD includes:
1-6: Mieczyslaw Weinberg, Jewish Songs - First Cycle (Children’s Songs) to Yiddish lyrics by Yitschak Leyb Peretz, Op. 13 (1943); instrumentation for voice and piano trio by Alexander Oratovski (2004);
8-10: Mieczyslaw Weinberg, Sonata No. 1 for Cello Solo, Op. 72 (1960);
11-16: Mieczyslaw Weinberg, Jewish Songs - Second Cycle to Yiddish lyrics by Shmuel Halkin (Samuel Galkin) for voice and piano, Op.17 (1944);
17-18: Dmitri Shostakovich, Prelude and Fugue No. 8 in F-Sharp Minor for piano, Op. 87 (1950-51);
19-22: Dmitri Shostakovich, four songs from the cycle “From Jewish Folk Poetry”, Op. 79 (1948), Yiddish version provided by Joachim Braun; instrumentation for voice and piano trio by Alexander Oratovski (2004);
23: Veniamin Basner, Poem for violin and piano, Op. 7, No. 1 (1950);
24-26: Veniamin Basner, three fragments from the musical “Jewish Luck” after D. Fridman’s novel Mendel Marantz, libretto by Boris Pantser, Op. 45 (1994); arrangement for voice and piano trio by Alexander Oratovski (2004).
Sovali (Sofie van Lier) - soprano (1-7, 11-16, 19-22, 24-26)
Boris Goldenblank - violin (1-7, 19-26)
Alexander Oratovski- cello (1-8, 23-25)
Wladislaw Warenberg - cello (19-22, 26)
Paul Prenen - piano (11-18, 24-25)
Sander Sittig - piano (1-7, 19-23, 26)
The recordings were made in May-June 2005 and June 2007 in the Bethaniënklooster, Amsterdam. Sound engineer: Dick Lucas.
The musicians on this album share an interest in the music. Singer / musicologist Sovali (Sofie van Lier), who coordinated the project, has been doing her utmost for years to unearth beautiful but neglected music by Jewish composers. In her quest she met kindred spirits violinist Boris Goldenblank, originally from Moscow and now a member of the orchestra of Andre Rieu, cellists Alexander Oratovski and Wladislaw Warenberg, both from St. Petersburg and one now a member of the orchestra of the Royal Walloon Opera, the other a member of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and pianists Sander Sittig and Paul Prenen, both from Amsterdam, who play as soloists and in various chamber music ensembles.
Concerts with this program were held in 2004-2006 throughout the Netherlands and in St. Petersburg at the Shostakovich Centennial Celebration, October 2006.
Some reactions to our performances:
Eindhovens Dagblad: “’Zun mit a regn’, splendid Yiddish lyricism”
Jan Roelofs – review of the concert at Museum ‘De Buitenplaats’ in Eelde:
“How does one describe “atmosphere”? Not in terms like professional or virtuoso, although these terms were certainly applicable. In any case, the atmosphere of the concert was shaped by the Jewish sounds, the melancholy and sometimes heartbreaking grief that could be heard, the sounds and rhythms that said: “I shall persevere and won’t let them grind me down”, the Yiddish lyrics that were translated so professionally they could almost be followed word for word.
Yet the atmosphere was predominantly determined of course by soprano Sovali, violinist Alexej Pevzner [who replaced his father Boris Goldenblank], cellist Alexander Oratovski and pianist Sander Sittig… In a beautifully structured programme of songs and instrumental works (partly performed as solos), they showed their professionalism, virtuosity and above all pleasure in singing and playing. The warm cello and violin sounds, the beautiful, supple and agile voice and the pianist who conjured up a rich palette of sounds from the grand piano were important ingredients for the special atmosphere of this concert….”
The DSCH Journal: “This was an unforgettable event in which the musicians gave their all. Bravo!”
See also our other CDs “Tribute to Mikhail Gnesin” and “Curtain Call for the St.Petersburg Jewish Music Society (1908) – 100th anniversary”.
Soprano SOVALI (Sofie van Lier) pursues a personal approach in music and vocal expression, and is interested in the experiment. Initially a dancer in the Dutch National Ballet, she started her vocal career as “Voice” with the Nedly Elstak Trio. She studied singing with Gerhard Meyer in the Netherlands, and Eleanor Steber in New York. She also took lessons from the Indian singer Uday Bhawalkar and the renowned jazz musician and composer Ornette Coleman. Sofie van Lier got a Master’s degree in musicology at the University of Amsterdam, where she graduated with Frits Noske and Ton de Leeuw. She has given solo recitals in the Netherlands and abroad and performed in music/theater, musical and film productions. With the Nedly Elstak Trio she recorded for ESP-Disk’s “The Machine”, and for the BVHaast Label she recorded songs by Dutch composer Bernard van Dieren, accompanied by pianist Paul Prenen. She was featured on the Klezmokum CDs “Le Dor Va Dor” and “From Ancient and Newer Roots” (BVHaast CD 0700 and CD 1205). In 2002/2003 she organized and participated in the “Mikhail Gnesin Project”. Her latest album release is “Curtain Call for the St.Petersburg Jewish Music Society (1908) – 100th anniversary”, which she recorded with pianist Paul Prenen (JMP CD 002). Her repertoire is varied and includes vocal works in different styles from different periods.
Violinist BORIS GOLDENBLANK studied at the Conservatory in Kishinov (Moldavia) and attended several masterclasses in Novosibirsk. He finished his musical education at the Moscow Conservatory. After that Boris became concertmaster at the Moscow Radio Orchestra. From 1974 until 1990 he was acting concertmaster at the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra led by Kondrashin and Kitaenko. At the same time he performed in various chamber music ensembles and with soloist such as S. Richter, L. Kogan, and W. Trettiakov. After 1990 he became leader of the second violins at the Limburg Symphony Orchestra. He also gave concerts with New Sinfonietta Amsterdam led by Lev Markiz and with the Amati Ensemble led by Gil Sharon and many other orchestras. Momentarily he is a member of the André Rieu Studio.
Together with cellist Alexander Oratovski he engages in the performance of the music by the composers of the Petersburg ‘Jewish Music Society.
Cellist ALEXANDER ORATOVSKI graduated with honors from the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1973. He won prizes at the Russian National Competition in Moscow in 1972 and the International Competition in Gernsach, BRD in 1991. He played cello in the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and solo cello in the St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra (1974-1990). In 1990 Alexander Oratovski came to the Netherlands, where he joined the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra (1991-1993) and the Brabants Orkest (1993-1999). He became a Dutch national in 1996. In 2000 he moved to Germany, where he works as solo cellist with the Meininger Orchcestra (BDR).
Oratovski’s first encounter with the forgotten works by the composers of the St. Petersburg Jewish Music Society (founded in 1908) was in 1988. Soon concerts with music by these composers were organised in St. Petersburg. In 1992 Oratovski gave a series of concerts with these fascinating Jewish musical works in the Netherlands. In 2002/2003 he participated in the Mikhail Gnesin Project.
Cellist WLADISLAW WARENBERG originates from a musical family. Both his parents are violinists and his brothers Ilya and Alexander are violinist and pianist respectively. He studied at the Leningrad (St.-Petersburg) Conservatory and won prizes at several competitions. After working two years in the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, he became solo-cellist at the Brabants Orkest. Since 1979 he is acting solo cellist at the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. Wladislaw Warenberg regularly gives recitals and performs in various chamber music ensembles.
Pianist PAUL PRENEN studied piano with Jan Wijn and Edith Lateiner at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam, where he graduated cum laude. At present he divides his talents between the concert hall and the theatre: next to his pianistic career he composes music for film and theatre. He arranged various operas for Frank Groothof, for Opera Trionfo, for the Combattimento Consort and composed music for the music-theatre productions of Gebroeders Flint and the former Werkteater as well as the Children’s Theatre performances of O`ma Marée. With singer Sofie van Lier he recorded the songs of Bernard van Dieren for BVHaast.
Pianist SANDER SITTTIG studied with Jan Wijn at the Sweelinck Conservatorium in Amsterdam. During these studies he made his début in the main concert halls of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. After obtaining his Soloist Diploma he won a scholarship awarded by the Dutch government which enabled him to continue his studies with Eugene Indjic (Paris) and Naum Grubert (Amsterdam). He also was an active participant in master classes by Menahem Pressler, Charles Rosen and Jewgeni Malinin.
Sander Sittig is a prize-winner of the international piano competitions of Palm Beach, Rome, Epinal and Eindhoven. He also was awarded prizes in chamber music competitions in Rotterdam and Gubbio. These prizes paved the path for a career that took him to almost all im¬portant concert halls in the Netherlands, as well as to Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the USA, England, Austria, France, Israel, Turkey, Norway and Spain. He also regularly performs for radio and television.
Sander Sittig performs both as a soloist and as a chamber musician. He is a member of the Feininger Trio and of the Incantatie Ensemble whose CD of Simeon ten Holt's Incantatie was issued in 1993. He has also recorded CDs with Dutch violinist Yvonne Smeulers and as a soloist. Since 1991 Sander Sittig teaches at the Rotterdam Academy for Music and Dance; since 1994 he has been teaching at the summer music course of Cáceres (Spain).
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