All folksongs arranged by Vladimir Merta, except (8) composed and arranged by Vladimir Merta (text by Federico Garcia Lorca)
Jana Lewitová - vocal, percussion
There can hardly be a more forsaken corner of the musical scene. The disdained Jewish minority has an even smaller minority in its midst. The music of the Ashkenazim is closer to the Slav musical sensibility, and today only the Spanish Synagogue reminds us of the once rich cultural life of the Sephardic Jews. Their songs sound exotic in our ears, music which is vibrant with emotion, profoundly personal: it is not sentimental, a proud sigh rather than a lament. To reach down to the roots of this music is almost an archaeological venture, a hard pull against the tide of the centuries. Musicians and listeners journey together, from one time zone to another, only to find - paradoxically - their own selves. Songs of a small minority scattered through the world have come to rest in the hearts of modern man, at the end of our millennium, weighed down as he is with problems of his own. We retrace the paths followed by those little bands of Sephardim across Europe and the Near East as they sought in vain for a place to settle. Leaving behind the security of Spanish courts where they served as respected advisers, in financial dealings, as physicians and philosophers, they plumbed the depths of despair common to all refugees. This is the source of the dramatic intensity of their songs, the two levels on which they move: sublime Renaissance melodies, falling to wailing and lamentation. The higher and the lower come together, as indeed they have done throughout the history of the People of the Book. What remains to these lonely fleeing bands but their songs?
© 2HP Production, May 2013
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