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Hyperion Records

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Photograph from the series Last Folio (Slovakia, 2005-2011) by Yuri Dojc
Track(s) taken from CDA67910
Recording details: September 2011
City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, Scotland
Produced by Simon Kiln
Engineered by Arne Akselberg
Release date: August 2012
Total duration: 8 minutes 25 seconds

'A breathtakingly beautiful dialogue between Natalie Clein and the BBC Scottish Symphony conducted by Ilan Volkov. Clein manages to explore the profound depths of [Bloch's Schelomo] and all its vocal expressivity without exaggeration or hyperbole and the orchestra's response feels minted in the moment rather than pre-planned. I'm not sure I've heard a more convincing modern account on disc. An immaculate recording' (BBC Radio 3 CD Review)

'[Clein's performance of Schelomo] is thoughtful, subtle and satisfying, well supported by the passionate and spirited BBC SSO: … in Voice in the Wilderness,Clein encompasses all the work's varied character and demands while retaining an air of polish in her playing … the Bruch, too, receives a lovely performance, with Clein bringing out the different colour of each of the cello's strings and the orchestra effecting most beautifully the transition from sombre to heavenly' (Gramophone) » More

'The strongly emotive musical aura of Bloch's Schelomo seems ideally suited to Natalie Clein's impassioned style of cello playing … Clein delivers a powerfully committed performance, but also manages to avoid over-indulgence, negotiating the peaks and troughs of the music's volatile emotional language with a clear sense of direction. Undoubtedly, Ilan Volkov and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra play a vital role in this process. Volkov brings a welcome transparency to Bloch's languorous instrumentation in the reflective secions, while the raging torrents of the orchestral tuttis have rarely sounded more highly charged' (BBC Music Magazine) » More
PERFORMANCE
RECORDING

'Natalie Clein is the cello protagonist in all four works, her range of tonal colour, her animation and her discreet soulfulness proving to be ideal qualities … the relationship between cello and orchestra is closely knit, Ilan Volkov conducting the BBC SSO with just the impetus and sensibility that this music requires' (The Daily Telegraph) » More

'Natalie Clein gives an unexaggerated performance pursuing the music's linearity and playing from the heart while conjuring some appropriate dark tone from her instrument … the music takes wing to both beguile and thrill. It's one of the most persuasive performances of this work [Schelomo] that I have ever heard … throughout, the recording is as vivid as the music … an outstanding release' (International Record Review) » More

'Clein and Volkov give a performance of Schelomo (1916) that is very moving, both in its profound sensuality and in the pervasive sense of transience that gnaws at its vision of worldly glory. They bring the same commitment to From Jewish Life (1924) and Voice in the Wilderness (1936) … the other knockout is Bruch's Kol Nidrei … beautifully done, it brings the disc to a reflective close. Highly recommended' (The Guardian) » More

'Natalie Clein's inspired collection of [Bloch's] three cello works on Jewish themes … is rare and welcome. Her impassioned, sensitive playing finds willing collaborators in the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and their former principal conductor' (The Sunday Times) » More

'Clein plunges deep into the world of Bloch's Schelomo as she effectively forms a red-hot line of communication with the listener in both its introspective, brooding moments and its soulful outbursts. The orchestra's string section produces a flawless body of sound and the balance is nicely judged' (The Strad)

'If one has enjoyed the music in those epic biblical movies of the last century, mostly starring Charlton Heston, chances are one will also respond to the works of the composer who influenced that genre. The Swiss-American Ernest Bloch (1880-1959) also wrote much secular music, but he will be best remembered for the works that reflect his Jewish heritage … completing this gorgeously performed anthology by young British cellist Natalie Clein is Max Bruch’s popular Kol Nidrei … essential listening' (Singapore Straits Times)

'Clein is a gifted interpreter of these nearly sacred musical themes, lovingly devoted to expressing the composers’ visions of what she calls 'the early 20th century yearning for a sense of identity and nostalgia for an imagined past, a past already being swept aside in favor of modernity and globalization.' And kudos to the talented Israeli conductor Ilan Volkov, whose sympathetic, restrained approach never treads on the tender solo cello passages—Clein and Volkov are a match made in heaven' (Strings, USA) » More

'You cannot wish to hear a clearer, lovelier investigation of Bloch’s Jewish decade' (Norman Lebrecht)

'[Clein] hat das nötige Einfühlungsvermögen, die starken, aufwühlenden, dunklen Klangfarben, die gelegentlichen Abstiege in seelische Abgründe mit der herzlichen Heiterkeit der volkstümlichen Klänge fein dosiert zu kombinieren. Hier gibt es keine schmachtende Melancholie und eben so wenig überschäumende Fröhlichkeit, dafür viel Sensibilität, viel Lyrik und schöne dynamische Kontraste' (Pizzicato, Germany)

From Jewish Life
composer
1924; for cello and piano; dedicated to Hans Kindler
arranger
orchestration for cello, strings and harp

Prayer  [3'48]
Supplication  [2'16]
Jewish Song  [2'21]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Bloch composed From Jewish Life for cello and piano while on vacation in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at the end of 1924, the year before his period of office as Director of the Cleveland Institute of Music came to an end. This set of three short pieces was dedicated to Hans Kindler (1892–1949), who had given the premiere of Schelomo at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1917. They explore the entire range of the solo instrument, musical structures are simple, and the use of Eastern European Ashkenazi modality creates a distinctive atmosphere. This recording features Christopher Palmer’s arrangement of Bloch’s original piano accompaniment for string orchestra and harp.

Prayer is in ternary form, and the two contrasting themes—one broad, the other fragmented—are each introduced by the cello and then repeated in the orchestra. In the final section the melody of the opening appears an octave higher, and is extended into a kind of free recitative. The accompaniment is essentially chordal, but there are several passages of rich two-part counterpoint. The key of F minor incorporates elements of the Magen Avot and S’licha modes of the synagogue; but it is the Ahava Rabba mode (known more colloquially as Freigish) that predominates in the coda. The cello solo ends with an especially poignant quartertone inflection.

Supplication is based upon a single theme in two parts, each of which recurs in various guises. Although the tonality is basically E minor, there is frequent modulation into related keys as the movement progresses. Elements of the Av Harachamim (Mi Shebeirach), Adonay Malach, and Ahava Rabba modes are combined here in rapid succession; and occasional syncopations suggest the rhythms of Hassidic dance. After a spirited climax, a long chromatic descent leads to a peaceful close.

Jewish Song is based upon a single melody in the Ahava Rabba mode on C. And again there are two parts, the first of which appears three times, and the second twice. Quartertones are plentiful; they produce a consistently doleful effect—particularly at the beginning, where the accompaniment comprises a slowly and solemnly repeated drone on a bare fifth. The movement arches to a climax, following which the theme fades away to nothing.

from notes by Alexander Knapp © 2012

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