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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Triumph of the Wallfisch Family, 17 Jan 2014
This review is from: Bloch Schelomo & Voice In The Wilderness, Caplet Epiphanie, Ravel Kaddish (Audio CD)
Whenever one reads of the survival of a musical family despite the best efforts of the Nazi régime, the heart has a tendency to lift. So it is for me with the latest CD to be performed by Raphael Wallfisch, the eminent cellist, with his son Benjamin Wallfisch conducting the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. The recording was made in the excellent accoustic of the Hoddinott Hall within the Wales Millennium Centre.

Anita Lasker-Wallfisch survived Auschwitz and Belsen because she was - and is - a cellist. She and her sister played with a group of musicians in the camps conducted by a niece of Gustav Mahler. It seems incredible that beautiful music could be appreciated by men and women whose business it was to perform such hideous acts on their fellow human beings, but so it was that Anita Lasker was able to survive the war, eventually make her way to England, meet and marry the pianist Peter Wallfisch and then have wonderfully-gifted children who also made their careers in music.

Her son, Raphael, has dedicated this CD of Jewish music to the memory of the many lost members of his family, killed in the Holocaust. It's all a long time ago, but the horrors of that time are not forgotten, nor should they be. This CD is published to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day, on January 27th, which asks us to remember not just the Nazi persecution, but also subsequent holocausts, whether in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur or now, potentially, in central Africa.

The choice of music is an interesting mixture of the familiar and the less so. After Bloch's 'Voice in the Wilderness', there's a less familiar work, 'Epiphanie', by André Caplet. This is an unusual setting of the story of the Adoration of the Magi and the birth of Christ, with the cello as soloist in this kind-of concerto. After this comes the more familiar Ravel setting of the Jewish prayer, 'Kaddish'. Raphael Wallfisch greatly admired the closing work, 'Shelomo, une Rhapsodie hébra´que', even as a child, before he was able play the notes.

This is a beautifully-played and beautifully-recorded CD. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music in Remembrance of an Historical Occasion, 20 Jan 2014
This review is from: Bloch Schelomo & Voice In The Wilderness, Caplet Epiphanie, Ravel Kaddish (Audio CD)
Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
If there was an unappreciated, underrated and underperformed 20th century composer, it's certainly the Swiss-American Ernest Bloch. his work is often inspired by an intense religiosity spring from his Jewish roots. This recording of Schelomo is a case in point. The beautiful tone of Raphael Wallfisch's cello with the excellent accompaniment by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by his son Benjamin leaves nothing to be desired. There have been a few other recordings of this work over the years,amongst one on the Supraphon label (Navarra and Ancerl). But this one has presence, excellent sound and is to be preferred above all others.

Voices in the Wilderness consists of six meditations and although originally conceived for the piano,the composer decided rightly to add a cello part. This is worth listening to as is the rest of this CD's contents.

Andre Caplet(1878-1925)
Epiphanie is called in English "A musical fresco after an Ethiopian legend", here are three movements, each of which in turn are sometimes intense, sometimes transparent and refined, that form the backdrop to the virtuoso writing for the solo instrument. In each of the three movements the cello expresses moods and feelings ranging from beauty and tenderness to menace and mystery (quote from accompanying notes).

Finally we have KADDISH by Maurice Ravel. This five minute piece is in praise of GOD . There are numerous traditional melodies and the one used by Ravel is a("Missinai" tune as sacred as if it had been handed to Moses on Mount Sinai)again excerpt from accompanying notes by Raphael Wallfisch.

Raphael Wallfisch has released this CD which is dedicated to the many members of his family that perished in the Holocaust.

It is well recommended not only for the occasion but for the sheer musicality of Raphael and the BBC NOW conducted by his brother Benjamin Wallfisch.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Jewish musical commemoration, 27 Jan 2014
This review is from: Bloch Schelomo & Voice In The Wilderness, Caplet Epiphanie, Ravel Kaddish (Audio CD)
I write this review on Holocaust Memorial Day for a recording dedicated by Raphael Wallfisch to the memory of the many members of his family who perished in the Holocaust. His mother, Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, was, as a cellist herself, put into the Auschwitz concentration camp women’s orchestra in 1943 and spared the gas chambers simply because she could play. Later, having survived both Auschwitz and Belsen, she made her way to London where she met and married the pianist Peter Wallfisch and helped to create the English Chamber Orchestra.

Here Raphael and his son, conductor Benjamin, offer us not only two of the greatest works for the cello by Ernest Bloch, but also music by André Caplet and Maurice Ravel, all of it having Jewish connections. The two Bloch works are Voice in the Wilderness and Solomon (Schelomo in the Hebrew), the first being six meditations for cello and orchestra and Schelomo (written 21 years earlier) thoughts on the Book of Ecclesiaties. Also included are Epiphanie, three movements telling the story of the Adoration of the Magi, by Caplet, and Ravel’s setting of the Hebrew prayer Kaddish.

These works, accompanied by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales are given wonderfully sympathetic performances by an artist who has known the Bloch pieces all his life in a really splendid recording in Cardiff’s Hoddinott Hall by Nimbus Records - excellent in every respect!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A most satisying cello/orchestral experience, 29 Jan 2014
By 
Jack L. Honigman (Manchester, U.K.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bloch Schelomo & Voice In The Wilderness, Caplet Epiphanie, Ravel Kaddish (Audio CD)
Other reviewers have written of the history of the Wallfisch family and the Holocaust Memorial Day which has inspired this recording so I will limit myself to the music. The two pieces by Bloch are more a continuing dialogue between the cello and the orchestra rather than a conversation as may be applied to a concerto. The music is beautifully composed giving a most harmonious relationship between the components. It hardly needs to be said that Raphael Wallfisch plays superbly but he is most closely accompanied by the National Orchestra of Wales conducted by his son. Well worth listening to.
The Epiphanie, by Caplet, takes a different tack in that the emphasis is more on the virtuosity of the cellist rather than the simpler blending found in the Bloch works. Again, Raphael Wallfisch is well up to the mark here.
The Ravel Kaddish is most interesting since while the composer was not Jewish and has no Jewish antecedents, nevertheless he captures the mood of the High Holyday Nusach - the traditional musical atmosphere of the Jewish service.
Altogether, a most satisfying musical experience for the listener and the accompanying notes are most informative but why must designers nowadays have to produce covers where dark grey is superimposed on black? A triumph of design over common sense.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cinemascope in Cardiff, 10 Feb 2014
This review is from: Bloch Schelomo & Voice In The Wilderness, Caplet Epiphanie, Ravel Kaddish (Audio CD)
There has been a lot of publicity, not to say hyperbole, surrounding this disc. It is intended as a memorial, by the principal artists Raphael and Benjamin Wallfisch, to family and friends who perished in the obscenity of the Holocaust.

To achieve this aim puts pressure on the resulting CD and I’m pleased to report it honours them in the best way possible.

Whilst not masterpieces perhaps I certainly think Schelomo and Voice in the Wilderness…. as well as Ravel’s setting of the Kaddish… are pretty good pieces, and ones to which I will return often. The Ravel incidentally is the composer’s own transcription of a song originally for baritone and piano.

It’s always interesting how Bloch seemed to think in cinemascope, in terms of the sound world he conjured up. You could easily be forgiven for imagining a Hollywood “rope and sandals” blockbuster whilst listening to these pieces. Yet
Schelomo’s composition dates from the Great War, whilst Voices appeared in the mid 1930’s.

These are descriptive scores though not ones necessarily telling a detailed story. They are more evocations of moods and landscapes, with the solo cello meditating and subtly commenting on the action or scenario. Yes there are clear Hebraic influences but its the combination of rich melody and subtle orchestration that is for me, irresistible. Father (Raphael) and son (Benjamin) Wallfisch work perfectly together, and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales is on top form – an expression of just how good the Corporations’s orchestras are at the moment.

And….I musn’t forget the Caplet, which was completely unknown to me, and is an interesting and worthwhile new discovery.

I had previously only associated him with Debussy, ie for his orchestration of “La boite a joujoux” , and (I think) involvement with the unfinished project “The Fall of the House of Usher” (??). Sadly his life was cut short. Gassed in the trenches in WW1 he subsequently died of pleurisy in 1925, aged only 47.

This issue is marked out by excellence and true sentiment (not sentimentality), and is blessed with equally fine recorded sound from the BBC’s Hoddinott Hall, the latest addition to the Millennium Centre in Cardiff.

Give your hi-fi (and your sensibilities) a treat!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Voice in the Wilderness, 6 Feb 2014
This review is from: Bloch Schelomo & Voice In The Wilderness, Caplet Epiphanie, Ravel Kaddish (Audio CD)
An excellent CD, full of interesting and beautifully played music. The only piece I was at all familiar with was Bloch's Schelomo. However the other Bloch piece on this CD is his Voice in the Wilderness. This is a wonderfully evocative piece made up of six sections which are varied in character.
I was not familiar with the French composer Andre Caplet, but here is an extremely colourful piece, Epiphanie, which contains virtuosic writing for the cello. Ravel, although not Jewish, captures the spirit of the music wonderfully.

The sound quality is first rate. Very informative booklet. Definitely worth buying as is obvious by its entering the Classical Charts - straight in at number 9.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wallfisch CD, 25 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Bloch Schelomo & Voice In The Wilderness, Caplet Epiphanie, Ravel Kaddish (Audio CD)
I bought this after reading a review in the paper, and found the story of Raphael Wallfisch and his mother's experiences in Auschwitz very moving. The CD lived up to my expectations.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Music played in Auschwitz, 19 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Bloch Schelomo & Voice In The Wilderness, Caplet Epiphanie, Ravel Kaddish (Audio CD)
Cello music played by the son of Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, conductor by her grandson, that was played in Auschwitz.
The standard of the playing is excellent and the associated history is very moving.
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