Violins of Hope

niv ashkenazi Violins of Hope is an artistic and educational project that utilizes instruments once owned by Jewish musicians, many of which were played in concentration camps and ghettos. Israeli luthiers Amnon and Avshalom Weinstein have collected many of these instruments, refurbishing them to concert quality, and in this singularly engaging album, violinist Niv Ashkenazi and pianist Matthew Graybil bring to life music by many Jewish composers both dead and alive, including Serenade by Robert Dauber, Nigun by Ernest Bloch, the theme from “Schindler’s List” by John Williams, The Chassid by Julius Chajes, Bestemming: Triumph by Sharon Farber, Trois pièces de concert by Szymon Laks, Dance of the Rebbitzen by George Perlman, both Berceuse Sfaradite and Three Songs Without Words by Paul Ben-Haim, and Kaddisch by Maurice Ravel.

For many of us the names of Robert Dauber, Julius Chajes, Sharon Farber, Szymon Laks, George Perlman, and Paul Ben-Haim might not be well known and their music unjustly neglected, yet listening to the music in this recording I was quite taken by the sweeping Romanticism of Robert Dauber’s Serenade, the melodic richness of Paul Ben-Haim’s Berceuse sfaradite and Three Songs Without Words and by the dance-like flair of both Dance of the Rebbitzen by George Perlman and Julius Chajes’ The Chassid. The inventiveness of Trois pièces de concert by Szymon Laks anchored as it is in an early 20th century aesthetic, and the engaging sweep of Bestemming: Triumph by Sharon Farber were immediately arresting and now remain memorable, making this listener eager to hear more of this wonderful musical treasure trove.

The download I reviewed contained three tracks (12, 13, 14) whose composers did not appear on the list I failed to obtain, my apologies if this is my oversight.

Throughout the CD the immensely gifted Niv Ashkenazi and Matthew Graybil, his superb collaborative pianist both play soulfully imbuing the music with appropriate emotional depth though never falling prey to sentimentality. Altogether a worthy project, Violins of Hope provided this listener with a lovely listening experience.

Anyone interested in reaching out to the artists, please contact Mr. Ashkenazi at niv@nivashkenazi.com or through his website http://www.nivashkenazi.com. The album can be found physically and digitally on Amazon and Albany Records, digitally on iTunes, and on Spotify for streaming.

Rafael de Acha    http://www.RafaelMusicNotes.com