This album presents a sampling of zemirot from various traditions and in various styles. Some of these zemirot are presented as they were originally conceived, simple folksongs intended for families to sing as they sat around the Sabbath table. In other cases we have presented the traditional melodies in artistic choral arrangements. Some selections are newly composed works, reflecting contemporary responses to the ancient texts.
CD – $10
The Zamir Chorale of Boston has become America’s foremost Jewish choral ensemble, and this collection of songs inspired by the Shabbat does nothing to diminish their enviable reputation. It’s a lovely anthology full of vastly different musical styles. Some selections take us on a ‘Judaism around the World’ tour to Turkey, Yemen, Morocco, northern Europe, and points in between. Hassidic chants and a wordless nign accompanied exquisitely by a harp intermingle with the well-known hymn ‘Shalom Aleichem’ and the folksy ‘Eshet Chayil’ that has the Zamir fellows supplying stylish ‘Bim Boms’ for soloist Sheri Gurock. Adding to the ethnic diversity is Maestro Jacobson’s version of the Hassidic melody ‘Azamer Bishvokhin’ (I Will Sing with Praise); it sounds more like an arrangement of ‘O Shenandoah’ than a chant hailing from Eastern Europe. It’s beautiful, by the way.
The most notable of several cantorial soloists is tenor Alberto Mizrahi, who makes quite an impression in the Moroccan songs. He squawks fearsomely in his upper range, but there’s no denying that the exuberant exoticism of his voice really puts the music across. The choral sound can get a little fuzzy when the soloists occupy the foreground. Otherwise it’s fine. A handsome booklet full of translations and engaging notes clinches the deal on a delightful release.”