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"Songs to the Invisible God" review...
- From: Joel Bresler <jbresler...>
- Subject: "Songs to the Invisible God" review...
- Date: Mon 20 Mar 2000 04.38 (GMT)
I am crafting a response to a slipshod review in Rootsworld of Ruth Wieder
Magan's "Songs to the Invisible God". This is a draft; comments welcome. I
would much have preferred to see a review that just said, "I really
disliked this recording" and explained why, rather than one that munged the
background so badly and then willy-nilly ascribed feelings to
traditionalists and others.
Read the original at: http://www.rootsworld.com/reviews/magan.html
I write in response to Aaron Howard's review of Ruth Wieder Magan's "Songs
to the Invisible God". Mr. Howard is free to hold whatever opinions he
likes about the recording, but he owes it to his readers and to the artist
to get the basics right.
He writes, "Jewish chant? There never was such an animal." This will be
a surprise to Jewish congregations that have chanted from the Torah (the
Five Books of Moses) and the Haftorah (the Prophets) every week for
thousands of year. Not to mention the special chant systems, or trop,
systems in use for sacred texts on holidays such as Purim, or Yom Kippur.
Later, "There is almost no tradition of a single voice being used to induce
a meditative state in the listener." (Note to Jewish Music List-niks: I
could use some help here. Are niggunim ever chanted solo? Or other examples
that contradict this statement?)
And the topper, "So then why does Magan shape the text, particularly her
three time repetition of the Hebrew word 'lachen' (which can be translated
as 'therefore') as she does on this recording? Improvisation is most
apparent when it fails and it seems to do so as the singer chooses this one
word as the highlight of the performance when it is clearly not the
highlight of the text.
Not if one doesn't bring a heightened awareness of Jewish text to the
table. Those who have grounding in Hebrew or the Jewish religious texts and
those who have an understanding of 'Haben Yakir Li' as a mainstay of
Yemenite religious expression will have difficulties with Magan's
This are two amazing paragraphs. First, Magan is repeating the Hebrew word
"rachem", not "lachem." "Lachem" does not appear in the text. Second, she
is not improvising the repetition, since it is present in the original
composition as sung by Rabbi Yitzhak Algazi. I would leave it to the
reknowned composer and rabbinical scholar Rabbi Algazi rather than Mr.
Howard to decide whether that word is or is not worthy of repetition. And
last, Rabbi Algazi was from Izmir and the Turkish tradition, rather than
All told, time to start over and try again.
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- "Songs to the Invisible God" review...,