Language warning: This album is in Scottish and Yiddish

Language warning: This album is in Scottish and Yiddish


norman lebrecht

November 20, 2020

Dammit, I really enjoyed this new release.

press release:

The Drowning Shore is a 14-minute monodrama that incorporates Sholem Asch’s classic 1907 play God of Vengeance, and its contrasting themes of written holy Hebrew and everyday Yiddish vernacular, with an original Scots-English text. Scored for ‘a mezzo-soprano in a screen’, the piece is performed by Asch’s great-great-granddaughter Clara Kanter, and devised in conjunction with her father David Mazower, Editorial Director at The Yiddish Book Centre (and Asch’s great-grandson). The piece was commissioned by Compass Presents as part of Oracles in Sepia, a series of artists’ attempts to read the present through the past.

Scottish composer-librettist Alastair White explains, “in recent years, God of Vengeance’s dichotomy between written and spoken language has been turned on its head. The internet – a living, breathing text – seems to grow at the same rate as our concerns with other virtual lines – most cruelly, the national borders that claim so many lives. The post-Covid digitalisation of work and performance has both accelerated this process, and, through that rapidity, thrown it into an uncanny new light. Are we horrified, or bored – that we now exist purely as avatars, in pools of watery light, like ghosts, or flowers pressed between glass panes?”



  • Fernandel says:

    We all can’t wait to hear Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne sung in Yiddish…

    • John Nemaric says:

      I wonder is Fredericka von Stade (I don’t remember the correct spelling, two dd(s)?) Could she still do the singing in Yiddish? Seems like a great idea or just maybe a dream.

  • Miko says:

    Och Vey!! (Boom tssshhh…)

  • Sharon says:

    Shlomo Ach’s son, Sam Asch, owned a recording company specializing in folk music. He kept “lefty” folk music groups going such as the Weavers in the fifties and sixties who were blackballed from concerts in the anti Commie purges of those days
    by continuing to sell their records in his catalogues saying, when asked, “Well, I never remove any records from my catalogue”. I believe that Sam’s son, Kanter’s grandfather, became an anthropology professor, specializing in music and took over the company (which I guess is now defunct, unfortunately) after Sam died. Good luck to Clara

    • David Mazower says:

      Close. Sholem Asch’s son Moe Asch started Folkways Records, which could justifiably have billed itself as the first ever world music label. He envisioned it as a library of the world’s sounds, with a focus on folk and roots music. Early artists included Ella Jenkins, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and many great black blues singers and guitarists. The label now has a second life as Smithsonian Folkways. Moe’s son, Michael Asch, became a professor of anthropology in Canada, specializing in the rights of indigenous Canadians. He lives in Vancouver. Moe’s sister, Ruth Shaffer, is Clara’s great grandmother, and my grandmother!

    • Michael Asch says:

      Thank you for this post. Actually, the record company was called Folkways Records. It is now at the Smithsonian Institution and is called Smithsonian Folkways. The name of the owner was Moses Asch (Moe), not Sam. I am his son. My name is Michael. I was an anthropology professor until I retired. I never did run the company. Hope that helps.