Saturday, September 18, 2010

Kol Nidrei.

Today, Jews around the world observe Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, a time of prayer, strict fasting and efforts to repent and seek forgiveness for acts of wrongdoing. The synagogue service held on the eve of Yom Kippur begins with the cantor's recitation of the Kol Nidrei, an Aramaic text asking that those present may be released from any vows or promises that they may not be able to keep.

The melody traditionally used to chant the Kol Nidrei is at least as well known as the text itself. Some musicologists and other listeners have found similarites between the melody of the Kol Nidrei and the modes of Gregorian chant, and a number of composers have produced compositions that make use of this melody. The best-known among these compositions is probably Max Bruch's Kol Nidrei, a work for solo cello and orchestra first performed in public in 1881. Despite its liturgical inspiration, Bruch's work had no religious motive behind it; a German Protestant, Bruch simply recognized a beautiful melody when he heard one and wanted to see what he could do with the Kol Nidrei.

If you'd like to hear (and see) for yourself, check out the above video featuring a performance of Bruch's Kol Nidrei by the Internationale Symphoniker Deutschland, directed by Arkady Berin with Mischa Maisky as soloist. May this performance bring you pleasure and peace this Saturday afternoon, or whenever it may reach your ears. AMDG.


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