ednamitchll and yehudi menuhin

From 1993 until his passing in 1999 Yehudi Menuhin devoted much of his energy and time to The Compassion Project, in his own words, “…an antidote to the chaotic times we live in…”

Seemingly simple yet enormously ambitious, the initiative conceived by Menuhin was to approach composers around the world and invite them to write compositions inspired by the idea of universal compassion. Today, over quarter century later, scores continue to come into the hands of violinist Edna Mitchell, personal friend and colleague of Menuhin. Mitchell, much younger than her mentor was seen by him as the one person who could be trusted to carry the project to fruition. And carry it, she did and does to this day, along with her teaching and concertizing.

Innova Recordings recently released a two-CD set featuring 25 compositions that form part of The Compassion Project. Let me state up front that it would be well beyond the scope of a blog review to give any kind of evaluation or criticism of each and every one of these 25 compositions, while to chose a few here and there at the expense of ignoring others would constitute a slight. Allow me then simply state that all of the two dozen plus one works contained in this album are deserving of recognition for their musical worth. But even more important, each of these worthy works of music honor the sentiments of one of the greatest musicians of our time, Yehudi Menuhin, thus partaking of his humanistic philosophy.

“I look to music to bind and heal; I think the musician can be a trusted object offering his fellow men solace but also a reminder of human excellence; I believe as strongly as ever that our finite world turns on finite individual efforts to embody an ideal.”

It takes a village to create a project of this magnitude, and the inhabitants of that musical place are randomly listed and saluted here:

Composers John Tavener, Shulamit Ran, Chen Yi, Hans Werner Henze, Yinam Leef, Poul Ruders, Somei Satoh, Wolfgang Rihm, Iannis Xenakis, Lukas Foss, Karel Husa, Betty Olivero, György Kurtág, Phillip Glass, Steve Reich, Kaija Saariaho, Peter Eben, Oldrich F. Korte, Viktor Kalabis, Luciano Berio, Boris Tishchenko, Sean Hickey, Josef Tal, and Gennady Banshchikov.

Performers Susan Narucki, the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Michal Kaňka, Ulf Hoelscher, Nachum Erlich, Karlsruhe Ensemble, Andreas Weiss, Igor Ardasev, Shlomo Mintz, Ludmila Peterková, Patricia Rozario, Bohuslav Matousek, Allen Ginsberg, Lyuba Petrova, Frank Glazer, David Shiffrin, Ettore Causa, Ole Akahoshi, Tari Helen O’Connor, Claire Brazeau, Cantilena Piano Quartet, Elaine Bonazzi, and Orson Welles.

The editors, engineers, and producers of both CD’s: Max Wilcox, Paul Zinman, Cenek Kotzmann, Mark Seifig, and Jonathan Schultz.

And to Edna Mitchell, the living heart and soul of The Compassion Project, a deep bow of gratitude.

Rafael de Acha