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Cat. No. CHAN 10769 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10769 - Ben-Haim: Chamber Works
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Available From: 20 May 2013
Ben-Haim: Chamber Works
This is Volume 1 in a new chamber series which explores the music of composers who were forced to flee Europe during the 1930s. The survey begins with works by the German-born Jewish composer Paul Ben-Haim (né Frankenburger) who immigrated to Palestine in October 1933. Ben-Haim was an accomplished pianist, conductor, choral coach, and composer who made a significant cultural contribution to his adoptive country. The list of musicians who commissioned, performed, and recorded his music includes Yehudi Menuhin, Itzhak Perlman, Menahem Pressler, and Leonard Bernstein. Among the Israeli composers he taught are Eliahu Inbal, Avraham Sternklar, Noam Sheriff, and Shulamit Ran.
The Piano Quartet was completed in Munich during the summer of 1921, long before any thought of emigration. Until the ARC Ensemble’s performance of the work in 2012, it had not been played since a broadcast in July 1932. It it strongly rooted in the music of Brahms, Strauss, Reger, and Fauré, whilst retaining Ben-Haim’s own strength of ideas, sense of form, and bold, confident use of colour.
By the late 1930s / early 1940s, Ben-Haim’s musical language had adapted to life in Palestine, and we find strong Hebraic elements scattered throughout both the Two Landscapes and Improvisation and Dance. The ‘Canzonetta’ is the fourth of the composer’s Five Pieces for Piano, and a direct descendent of the nineteenth century’s Song without Words.
The amalgamation of Eastern and Western influences in Ben-Haim’s life are beautifully realised in the Clarinet Quintet. While the European technique originates in the two mainstays of the clarinet’s chamber repertoire, the quintets by Brahms and Mozart, the ‘Capriccio’ in the Scherzo is a complete quotation of ‘Elohei Tzidki’ (God of my righteousness), a traditional hymn. ‘I was very satisfied,’ wrote the composer, ‘because I felt that I had succeeded in consolidating a new style.’
Over the last ten years the ARC Ensemble (Artists of The Royal Conservatory, Toronto) has become one of Canada’s pre-eminent cultural ambassadors, raising international appreciation of The Royal Conservatory and Canada’s rich musical life. Its first two albums, On the Threshold of Hope and Right through the Bone (devoted respectively to the music of Mieczyslaw Weinberg and Julius Röntgen), were both nominated for Grammy Awards in the ‘Best Chamber Music Recording’ category. Its recordings enjoy regular airplay around the world, and its concerts have been broadcast on CBC Radio, National Public Radio in the US, and on public radio throughout Europe.

 "...Performances here – both individual and collective – are superb, and faithfully recorded. This outstanding CD simply begs to be included in any collection, whether you have a particular interest in music of this period from displaced composers, or simply are looking for something different from a less well-known composer. In this investigation of chamber works by Paul Ben-Haim, you should certainly not be disappointed on either count."

Philip R Buttall - MusicWeb-International.com - January 2015

                                Music **** (Very Good)             Sound **** (Very Good)

Giselher Schubert - Fono Forum magazine (Germany) - January 2015

“… He [Ben-Haim] is Israel’s most important composer and it is odd that his music isn’t better known here. This new disc from Chandos goes some way to remedying this, with music of a conservative idiom but nonetheless of individuality.”
Peter Spaull – The Liverpool Post – 18 July 2013

 “… The players that make up the ARC Ensemble give deeply committed performances  of every one of them, and Chandos’s usual wide-range and deep sound stage add excellent dimensionality to the recording. Urgenty recommended.”

Jerry Dubins – Fanfare – November/December 2013


"... Engineering is rich and balanced. Would that all recordings could capture a piano tone as perfectly as in the solo Canzonetta..."
Gill French - American Record Guide - November/December 2013

"...Superb playing by the members of the ARC Ensemble, excellent sound ..."
Rob Cowan - Gramophone magazine - September 2013

"...This CD is highly recommended."
Aaron Howard - Jewish Herald-Voice - 8 August 2013 

 "...Expertly played by members of the eight-strong ARC Ensemble."
Fiona Maddocks - The Observer - 21 July 2013

“...His [Ben-Haim] music is so clearly and beautifully Jewish but is, much more importantly, excellent, well-written and compelling. I cannot imagine anyone not enjoying this music and, if –like me – any one of these or all of these is your first exposure to the music of Paul Ben-Haim, you will no doubt want to hear more.”

Daniel Coombs – Audiophile Audition.com – 10 July 2013

“... Joaquin Valdepeñas and friends acquit themselves with distinction ...”
Michael Round – International Record Review – July/August 2013 

                  Album of the Week
“...this release is an illuminating introduction. Passing quickly over a juvenile piano quartet, we discover a kindred spirit to Bartók, ears wide open to indigenous and ambient sounds, feet ever ready to jump up and learn a Bedouin dance.  The most attractive pieces, athletically played here by Canada’s ARC ensemble, are a pair of violin-piano jigs written for the visiting virtuoso Zino Francescatti, and a quintet for clarinet and strings that hovers between the bourgeois salon and the high-jinks of a klezmer band against a backdrop of heat and dust...”  ***
Norman Lebrecht – sinfinimusic.com – 24 June 2013 


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