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Re: "Songs to the Invisible God" review...

Joel and Khaverim --

I don't see "Rootsworld" with any regularity, and on the basis of Mr.
Howard's review -- needless to say, I disagree, since this was one of my
top recordings of the year for '99 -- I won't be looking at it again
anytime soon. 

I think that you have dealt with all the issues pretty succinctly. There
are two minor glitches in the version you posted to the list that should
be corrected.

First, there is no close quote in the paragraph that begins "And the
topper." As a result, it is unclear where Howard ends and Bresler

Second, more minor, two paragraphs later, I assume you meant "These are
two amazing paragraphs." 

At any rate, thanks for correcting the mistakes of -- dare I say it --
an ignoramous.

George Robinson

Joel Bresler wrote:
> Chevra:
> 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:
> ---
> Dear friends:
> 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
> interpretation."
> 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
> Yemen.
> All told, time to start over and try again.
> Sincerely,
> Joel Bresler
> Joel Bresler
> 250 E. Emerson Rd.
> Lexington, MA 02420 USA
> Home:           781-862-2432
> Home Office:    781-862-4104
> FAX:            781-862-0498
> Email:          jbresler (at) ma(dot)ultranet(dot)com

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