by Judy Pinnolis, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Taped as a live perfomance, this CD immediately draws the listener into the concert setting as the ambiant noise from the concert hall is heard on the CD. I was unfamiliar with the artist, but as soon as I heard the voice it immediately reminded me of someone else. Who did she sound like? Then it hit me: Ilana Kochinska's voice reminded me of Elly Ameling. I retrieved my Ameling recording of German lieder and listened to the voices back to back. Ms. Ameling's voice is a bit stronger and smoother, using less vibrato-- but the textures and tones of these trained voices were similar, (a least to my ear from the context of the recordings at hand.) So my first reaction was that I was favorably impressed with the quality of the voice. My personal taste calls for less vibrato than Ms. Kochinska provides, but as I listened to the recording, and then listened several more times, Ms. Kochinska and her delightful interpretations and style won me over.
Ms. Kochinska is ably assisted on this recording by Zalman Mlotek, who provides an outstanding example of correct art song accompaniment. His arrangements help convey the Jewish meanings and mood of each selection. The piano serves as a full partner in the music, but does not overpower the singer. These arrangements follow a long tradition of vocal/piano arrangements of Yiddish music.
Some today might find this tradition, this mode of presentation, too formal, too "high brow". This style is not foot stamping or get-up-and-dance; it's not the wild improv of klez or unusual textures through instrumentation of world music. It comes from the European art song tradition as much as from the Jewish. It's the blend that's so fascinating. It's definitely NOT German lieder. It's Yiddish. Yiddish and distinctly Yiddish not only in language, but musically. It's controlled and quiet. Nostalgic. Humourous. Warm. Intimate. The interesting phenomena of these arrangements is that while the level of artistry is high, the feelings conveyed remain close and familiar, warm and rounded, not sharp or distant. In short, the Jewish neshama (soul) is present in every selection.
The CD provides texts of all the songs. It works as a concert program arranged according to the themes of the "world of our mothers" --or more precisely, the world of home and hearth of a vanished time and community. Ms. Kochinska helps bring it back to life.
Reviewed by Judy Pinnolis, http://www.jmwc.org/, 11/20/98.
Personnel this recording:
In the Family
Love and Courtship
At the Opera
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Last revised 11 June, 2007.