The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (132): When life unravels

The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (132): When life unravels


norman lebrecht

July 25, 2020

It has been a week of losses. I need Ravel’s Kaddish.



  • Adam Stern says:

    I’d never heard this piece before…how beautiful it is. Thank you, Norman.

    • David K. Nelson says:

      It works extraordinarily well as a violin (and piano) piece, doesn’t it, and while I do not believe Ravel himself thought of it as anything other than a vocal work, he was a friend and close associate of the man who created the violin version, Lucien Garban, so I think this can be regarded as a “composer-approved” alternative version. The YouTube that N.L. links to is the superb late French-born violinist Jacques Israelievitch (with John Greer). He served as concertmaster or co-concertmaster in great orchestras, and was a soloist and chamber musician who made a number of recordings.

      Many violinists have recorded it including a highly emotional version by Yehudi Menuhin.

      Juliette Kang also recorded a very lovely version years ago, which I mention because she made the recording as part of winning the Indianapolis competition and has gone on to a distinguished career, currently first associate concertmaster with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

      Adam, I think the reason you might not have heard it before is – can this, should this really be followed by applause? Where could a violinist place this on the recital program that would be appropriate? Before or after Sarasate etc. seems tasteless. Awkward.

  • sam says:

    Ravel, the great shape shifter, is he Spanish (Bolero, Rapsodie Espagnole)? is he Arab (Sheherazade)? Is he a gypsy (Tzigane)? is he Viennese (La Valse)? is he a jazzy American (piano concerto in G)? is he Jewish (Kadish)?

  • Nick says:

    Enchanting! Thank you!

  • E says:

    Thank you this. It is a hauntingly beautiful piece.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Piercing, yet comforting. I thought of Ravel’s Greek songs and their complex genesis. Also a suite hebraique perhaps by him or another? Then Max Bruch’s “Kol Nidrei” and another work, along with Shostakovich’s Suite From Jewish Folklore, which he insisted on premiering himself, declining Richter’s offer, accompanying Nina Dorliak and other singers on the piano. It is recorded on russian Disc with other of his premieres and rarities. He was marvelous pianist from the time of the Chopin competition at which he was dejected to get only honorable mention. His lightning playng of his two concertos and other works show that.

    in “The Shoes of the Fisherman” about the Russian Pope Kyril I, doesn’t Anthony Quinn sing Kaddish in his guise of night-roving simple priest who comes upon a bereaved Jewish home that needs it, learned from Jewish friends while imprisoned.

    Oskar Werner played his troubled young free-thinking priest … “If God made me, and if He gave me this brain of mine, then …” — dying beautifully of a heart attack as he did again in “Ship of Fools”, and also unfortunately in real life. A fine actor, Werner, with a voice to remember, and Quinn who came a long way from Zorba and “La Strada” with the delightful gamin Giuletta Simionata.

    • Chilynne says:

      Giulietta Masina, no?

      • Le Křenek du jour says:

        Such a charming slip of the digital quill — exchanging Giulietta Simionato for Giulietta Masina — reveals a true ‘mélomane’ and committed opera-lover. The error can sometimes be more truthful than factual accuracy.

      • Edgar Self says:

        Thank you, Chillyme Masina. of couse. I looked doubtfully at Simionata but couldn’t think of another Giulette outside Romeo. You mean someone actually reads thse things?

        Simionata is ghe great mezzo with Chloe Elmo and another I’ll think of too late. A tenor friend once saw all three walking down a Milano alley and checked around or trucks.

  • Allan Leicht says:

    Breathtaking. Thank you. BDE.