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Classical Music Review

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Violins of Hope


Composers: Various
Performed by: Niv Ashkenazi (violin) and Matthew Graybil (piano)
Label: Albany Records
RRP: £13.99
Click here to buy -
0 34061 18102 6
Release Date: 09 March 2020

Albany Records release Niv Ashkenazi's Violins of Hope, a recording commemorating the instruments used by Jewish musicians before and during the Holocaust. The album is an artistic and educational project composed of instruments that were owned by Jewish musicians before and during the Holocaust. Violins in the collection were played in the concentration camps and ghettos, providing a source of comfort for some and a means of survival for others. Above all, the instruments represented strength and optimism for the future during mankind's darkest hour...

Amnon and Avshalom Weinstein are Israeli luthiers who run the the Violins-of-Hope Collection. The father and son company collect and refurbish stringed instruments that were connected to the Holocaust. bringing them to communities around the world.

Violinist Niv Ashkenazi was invited to join other musicians performing on instruments from this collection and now holds one of the instruments on a long-term loan. This violin, made between 1900-1929 in Eastern Europe or Germany, was used by Ashkenazi for this recording.

On Violins of Hope, Ashkenazi has chosen Jewish repertoire from throughout the lifetime of the violin. Like the instruments in the Violins of Hope collection, most of these composers were affected by the Holocaust. It's a powerful collection, even if you were unaware of the link to the Holocaust, and Ashkenazi pours his entire heart into these performances. Accompanying Ashkenazi is pianist Matthew Graybil. The two compliment each other incredibly well, playing as one mind.

The only track I was unsure of, at least on the first play though, was their performance of John Williams's 'Theme from Schindler's List'. This is a piece of music I know pretty much inside and out and, at first, I felt that Ashkenazi didn't do the original justice. Several plays later and the emotional input slowly shone through and the subtle performances really stood out.

There's a wonderfully diverse cross section of pieces chosen here. One thing, however, that unites them all is that they have the emotional sound of the violin at their core. This is an emotional album which will touch your heart, stir your soul and leave you in - or close to - tears.

Track listing

Robert Dauber
01 - Serenade (1942)

Ernest Bloch
02 - Nigun (1923)

John Williams
03 - Theme from Schindler's List (1993)

Julius Chajes
04 - The Chassid (1939)

Sharon Farber
05 - Bestemming: Triumph (2014, arr. 2019)
Sharon Farber (piano); Tony Campisi (narrator)

Szymon Laks
06-08 - Trois pièces de concert (1933)

George Perlman
09 - Dance of the Rebbitzen (1929)

Paul Ben-Haim
10 - Berceuse sfaradite (1945)

Maurice Ravel
11 - Kaddisch (1914 arr. 1924)

Paul Ben-Haim
12-14 - Three Songs Without Words


Darren Rea

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