A more reflective cello version of Kol Nidrei

A more reflective cello version of Kol Nidrei


norman lebrecht

September 29, 2017

If the Max Bruch setting has worn your patience thin, you may wish to try this modern setting for cello and piano by the New York composer Alan Shulman.

The performers are Steven Honigberg, cello, and Audrey Andrist, piano.




  • Olassus says:

    Does anyone know why Bruch uses “nidrei” while Schönberg and apparently Shulman use “nidre”? The Hebrew is surely the same.

    Incidentally a new Muti disc offers the Schönberg.

    • Robert Hairgrove says:

      It’s actually Aramaic, not Hebrew … in Hebrew, it would be “Kol Nedarim”. The original spelling (with Hebrew letters, of course) is “כָּל נִדְרֵי” which ends with the letter “Yod”, so the transliteration of “Kol Nidrei” is closer to the original.

      As to why one composer uses that and the others not, your guess is as good as mine. Historically, there have been many different melodies used for the liturgy. Max Bruch’s version is closest that of Lewandowski, which is presumably what Lichtenstein and his chorus sang in Berlin when Bruch was introduced to Lichtenstein through Ferdinand Hiller.

  • Jay Shulman says:

    Thank you for posting Steven Honigberg’s recording of my father’s setting of Kol Nidre. Alan Shulman (1915-2002) wrote it as a commission from the Metropolitan Synagogue in Manhattan and gave the first performances with organ, and in a version for string quartet (with Raymond Kunicki, Harry Glickman,Theodore Israel) October 10, 1970. He subsequently orchestrated it and gave the first performance of the cello & orchestra version with the Ridgefield (CT) Symphony, January 29, 1972, conducted by Beatrice Brown. Kol Nidre has also been recorded by Wesley Baldwin on his ‘Alan Shulman Works for Cello’ CD on Troy Records.
    Other Shulman Jewish-themed works include his 1948 Cello Concerto, dedicated to the People of Israel and premiered by Leonard Rose with Dimitri Mitropoulos conducting the NYPO, and recorded by Wesley Baldwin, and his 1950 Threnody (for the fallen Soldiers of Israel) first performed by the NBC String Quartet.

    • Marcie says:

      This is beautiful and a nice change from the Bruch version, which I also love. Is there sheet music available for this? I’ve been looking and can’t find anything.

    • Richard Zencker says:

      I was excited to discover this. I became familiar with a few works by Alan Shulman from Eastman recitals by string students in the late 1970s, and they all seemed to be works that merited further study and wider appreciation.

  • Dave Allen says:

    This website appears to have a non-Christian bias, I think we should be told why?

  • Jay Shulman says:

    Materials are available, please visit: http://www.alanshulman.com

  • NYMike says:

    As a former friend and colleague of Alan’s in the NY studios, I knew him to be not only super-talented both as cellist and composer, but fun to be around. I’d not known this Kol Nidre before this posting, so thanks to NL and Alan’s son Jay for posting!

  • John Borstlap says:

    A beautiful and expressive work, with an authentic emotional voice.