CD A0095: The Harp of King David

The Harp of King David
Dominique Piana (harp) with Gregory Yaroslow (tenor)

CD CoverThe Harp of King David, Songs of longing and hope, evolved from a concert programme envisioned as a poetic re-creation of a vibrant culture suspended in time by historical events, alining itself behind the legendary figure of King David.

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Track Listing & Audio Samples

1 The Harp of King David
  D. Finko 2.50
2 Cuando el Rey Nimrod + arr. R. Neumann 3.00
3 Durme hermozo hijico + arr. D. Akiva 2.26
4 Los siete hijos de Hanna + arr. R. Neumann 2.56
Canti di Nozze (Wedding Suite)   Mira Pratesi  
  5 La novia entre flores     1.03
  6 Convite del fin de la boda     0.59
  7 Hallazgo del esposo     1.07
  8 La cena del desposado     0.51
  9 Duelos y alegria de la esposa     1.09
  10 Alabanza de la esposa     1.52
11 Scalerica de oro + arr. R. Neumann 3.21
12 Ah, el novio no quere dinero + arr. R. Neumann 2.07
13 Yo m' enamori d'un aire + arr. R. Neumann 5.16
14 Sephardic Romance   S. Natra 1.32
15 Noches, noches + arr. R. Neumann 2.16
16 Durme, durme + arr. R. Neumann 3.22
Canti Della Speranza (Chants of Hope)   Mira Pratesi  
  17 All' angolo del villaggio     1.20
  18 La rondine Chiamerà     1.42
  19 Perchè verrano     1.29
  20 Noi ci saremo     2.09
  21 Apritemi le porte della giustizia     1.31
22 Los Bibilicos + arr. R. Neumann 2.21
23 Rhapsody (The Harp of King David) part 1   M. Castelnuovo-Tedesco 2.21
24 Montanas altas + arr. M. Castelnuovo-Tedesco 3.44
25 Yom Ze L' yisrael   arr. D. Owens 0.39
26 Yom Gila + arr. R. Neumann 2.21
    + Denotes Voice & Harp  

CD Notes & Credits

Sleeve Notes

“The Harp of King David” was conceived as a musical program which has been performed many times throughout Southern California since 1992. The emotional response from different audiences encouraged us to format it into an album, which by now has taken a life of its own ...

Envisioned as a poetic re-creation of a vibrant culture suspended in time by historical events, this recording aligns itself behind the legendary figure of King David, emblem of yearning love, and by extension, of the Jewish soul in its universal meaning, carrying the promise of the Messianic Age.

Artist Shraga Weil, whose representation of King David appears on the cover, translates this spiritual quest into a vision both contemplative and sensuous, filled with light. Our musical repertoire, starting with a specific cultural background —Jewish, and more specifically Sephardic—aims to move... and to explore a common ground for the human experience, by transcending artificial separations and trivial differences.

This last decade of the 20th Century is particularly rich in recollections and commemorations, each reminding us of the past in order to better seize present opportunities to realize the promise of the future.

Five hundred years ago, 1492 wasn't just the year Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ America; it was also the year when all the Spanish Jews were expelled from Spain, then, ultimately, from Portugal in 1497. The Sephardim (from the Hebrew word for Spain, Sepharad), fled to various Mediterranean and occidental destinations, preserving a certain state of mind, a language, Ladino (a form of old Castilian), and a unique musical heritage, perpetuating their culture, in the home, through oral tradition.

Fifty years ago, 1945 signified the end of the Holocaust, the most virulent human tragedy ever perpetrated; 1948 marked the proclamation of the State of Israel, in fulfillment of the prophetic announcement of the Bible.

Furthermore, in 1996, the 3,000th anniversary of the establishment of Jerusalem by King David will be celebrated in Israel and worldwide.

Through all the accumulation of suffering, displacement, and contended return, Hope has been kept alive until the day the human heart will choose to bloom into the true Temple.

The Harp of King David, our title song, stands as a modern interpretation of the pathos evoked by King David’s life and music. David Finko (b. 1936), a “Renaissance” man now based in Philadelphia, hails from Leningrad, Russia. A naval architect, pianist, violinist, teacher and conductor, he is the composer of numerous grand scale works, including concerti and operas, which have earned him awards and have been performed worldwide.

Our next selection introduces the listener to Ladino folk song in arrangements crafted by Richard Neumann. A noted composer and conductor who had studied in Prague and in Vienna, he served as Director of Music Education for the Board of Jewish Education of greater New York. He also wrote the scores of many United Nations films. His adaptations of Sephardic repertoire wonderfully translate for the modern ear the underlying drama contained in these songs, transforming them into highly evocative art songs. Cuando el Rey Nimrod, one of the most well-known Ladino folk songs, illustrates the blending of the Jewish and Christian cultures by combining the traditional imagery of the birth of Jesus with that of Abraham. It is customarily sung at circumcision ceremonies: Abraham representing the originator of this tradition, the compadre, the godfather, and the mohel, the ritual circumciser.

Los siete hijos de Hanna, used as a dirge and also called an “Inquisition” song, is based on the story of Hannah and her seven sons as found in the intertestamental book (Apocrypha) II Maccabees, Chapter 7. Summoned by the King Antiochus Epiphanes IV c. 168 BC, each son, from the eldest to the youngest, refused to renounce his faith. All of them were killed before their mother’s eyes, setting a precedent for Judeo-Christian martyrdom.

Scalerica de oro and Ah, el novio no quere dinero tell an old but ever modern story and are still wedding favorites.

In the tradition of the Spanish Romanza, Yo m’ enamori d’un Zaire is a typical courting song.

Noches, noches, in flamenco character, and Durme, durme, a lullaby, express the intense emotions brought forth by the night, in imaginary conversations between mother or caretaker and child.

The text of Los bilbilicos, also known as La rosa enflorese, is a typical love song, with all of nature echoing the longing of separated lovers. This melody is also used liturgically by Sephardic Jews, most notably for the well-known Sabbath zemirah (table hymn),“Tzur Mishelo Achalnu”.

Yom Gila, a Sephardic hymn of Joy, is sung in Hebrew. Its text is taken mainly from the liturgy of the Jewish wedding ceremony.

Durme hermozo hijico, a lullaby, was taken from a collection of Spanish Romances for guitar and melodic instrument, published in Israel (1984). Guitarist and recording artist Dany Akiva, a descendant of a Spanish family with deep roots in Israel, specializes in the compilation and arrangement of Romances and liturgical poetry, and also composes works originating in the Spanish tradition.

I Canti di Nozze is a collection of wedding songs from the archives of the Jewish Community of Tetuan, Morocco. Originally set very scantily, they stem from various eras between the 10th and 15th centuries and belong entirely to the Spanish culture before the 1492 expulsion. Mira Pratesi (1923-1991), an Italian specialist in ethnomusicology, transcribed them for solo harp from a print by the Spanish Institute of Musicology. I Canti della Speranza or Chants of Hope, are songs of various oriental, Mediterranean and occidental origin. The last one is a setting for Psalm 118:9: “Open for me the gates of Righteousness.” Italian harpist-musicologist Mirella Vita (b. 1919) prepared the edition of both sets.

Rhapsody, subtitled The Harp of David, forcefully introduces with this excerpt various episodes from King David’s life. In a nutshell, the harp dramatically portrays his victories and losses. A celebrated composer from Italy, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968) was forced to leave Europe just before World War II. He settled in the United States, continuing to write prolifically, both in the classical realm and for the movie industry in Hollywood. In his setting of Montañas altas, another love song from the core repertoire popular among the Sephardim, the voice and harp combination responds particularly well to his intense and poetic harmonic treatment.

Yom Ze L’yisrael is presented here in a well known Sephardic setting for this beloved Sabbath table-hymn. This adaptation was taken from “A Collection of Jewish Traditional Music”, compiled and arranged for harp by harpist-composer Dewey Owens. The refrain says: “This is Israel’s day of light and joy, a Sabbath of contentment.”

GREGORY YAROSLOW, a native of Rochester, New York, is a graduate of the Cantors Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, having earned the Diploma of Hazzan.A leggiero (lyric) tenor, he has given recitals of Jewish and classical music across the United States and is heard frequently throughout Southern California. Cantor Yaroslow believes that it is the singer’s responsibility to breathe the spark of life into each song, by communicating to the listener the meaning and emotion behind the words. After serving congregations in New York City, New London, Connecticut, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, he has been Cantor of Congregation Emanu El in San Bernardino, California, since 1978.

DOMINIQUE PIANA grew up in Brussels, Belgium, bridging two cultures (French and German), and has always been fascinated with the various human expressions of many cultures as they translate into musical and literary idioms. She studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music of Brussels and received a Master’s degree in Harp Performance from the Claremont Graduate School in California.She was drawn to the touch and the universal symbolism of the harp and was moved to expand its boundaries beyond the usual repertoire and styles. Miss Piana is presently Adjunct Professor of Harp at the University of Redlands and at La Sierra University, performing extensively throughout Southern California as a soloist and chamber player.

Shraga Weil (b. 1918) grew up in Czechoslovakia where he studied at the Prague School of Art. He produced his first graphic works during World War II, part of which he spent as a prisoner. Sailing on one of the illegal immigrant ships, he arrived in Israel in 1947 and became a member of Kibbutz Haogen, where he has been living with his family ever since. Weil’s works have been exhibited internationally and can be viewed at museums in Jerusalem, and in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles.



Digital Recording: Don Cicchetti
at First methodist Church, Redlands, California
Editing: Gregg Hall, Soundscape Productions, Los Angeles
Mastering: Larry Walsh, Capitol Records
Type Setting: Irmengrad Jennings University of Redlands
Design: Caroline Smalley, CDS Graphics, Glendale, California
Cover Picture: King David, from a serigraph by Shraga Weil, courtesy of Pucker Gallery Inc, Boston.
Produced by: Dominique Piana, Harpiana Productions
© 1994 Harpiana Productions

Album Information

Title:     The Harp of King David
Artists: Dominique Piana (harp) with Gregory Yaroslow (tenor)
Instruments:     Solo Harp some with voice
Genre: Classical
Format: Audio CD
Our Ref: A0095
MCPS: Harpiana 102-2
Label: Harpiana productions
Year: 1994
Origin: USA

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