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Sacred Chants of the Contemporary Synagogue

3.9 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 1, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Berliners say New York's Rebecca Garfein is causing a revival of Reform Judaism in Germany; this mezzo-soprano is making history with her music, recorded in the country where her great -grandmother perished in the Holocaust. In 1997, she became the first female cantor to sing in a synagogue in Germany; where she performed as part of Berlin's International Jewish Cultural Festival; and this exquisite 1998 release captures that ground - (and stained-glass ceiling) - breaking moment. It contains Jewish songs and prayers in Hebrew and Yiddish, selections from the Book of Ruth and Song of Songs - liturgical music previously only chanted my male clergy - operatic in character, performed in what was once the women's gallery in the Oranienburger Strasse Synagogue before its destruction. This live performance was attended by Jews and non-Jews, women and men, together, shattering the historical separation of faiths and genders. Beautiful, significant, and highly recommended!

Review

A new recording, in which Garfein's beautiful mezzo-soprano voice faithfully sustains the feeling of the 17 selections is available to mirror the historical event. Her program draws for some of the American Reform Judaism's most appealing liturgical melodies, as well as a modicum of secular folk song. -- Jerry Ben-Asher, NJJN-MetroWest, March 25, 1999

I can honestly say that I play it [Sacred Chants of the Contemporary Synagogue] every morning. What an inspirational to begin the day! Cantor Garfein's lovely voice does not mask the clarity of the words of these prayers. Her masterful musicianship and religious fervor combine forces of a powerful performance. This is a CD that I most heartily recommend to any music lover. -- Lois Lebow, Atlanticville, April, 1999

If you enjoy listening to well written and brilliantly performed music, settings of prayers whose texts ought to be familiar to any knowledgeable Jew, then get this CD. Cantor Garfein has a powerful, dramatic mezzo-soprano voice, which she uses with great control and effect. -- Morton Gold, The National Jewish Post & Opinion, February 10, 1999

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Ma Tovu
  2. Ahavat Olam
  3. Hashkiveynu
  4. R'tzey
  5. Shalom Rav
  6. Grant Us Peace
  7. Kiddush
  8. L'dor Vador
  9. Yosl Klezmer
  10. A Nign
  11. Avinu Malkeynu
  12. Kaddisch
  13. Ana Dodi
  14. Entreat Me Not to Leave Thee
  15. Cantor Garfein's Greeting to the Audience
  16. Shehecheyanu
  17. Yismechu


Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 1, 1998)
  • Original Release Date: January 1, 1998
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: CD Baby
  • ASIN: B0000488V6
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,613 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Hmm... Ok, maybe it was not the best reason to want to buy this CD, but I heard one of the songs on it, Hashkiveynu, performed (partially) during an episode of the West Wing, and it sounded AMAZING (it was NOT the same cantor as on this CD). I am not Jewish and not even very spiritual, but I wanted to have that song in my collection.

I immediately searched the web for the info, got the name of the chant and found this CD. I almost purchased it without listening, when I found a different site, where they actually have rather long excerpts (2 min.) of most tracks, so I listened to them.

Boy, was I relieved and disappointed at once! Relieved that I didn't buy the CD and disappointed that I couldn't get the song I wanted (I was willing to buy a whole CD for just 1 song, that's how much it impressed me).

The song sounds very little like the one from the West Wing, although I do believe that the site where I found the info speficially pointed to this CD as having a recording of the same song used in the show. And I'm sorry to say it but the voice also doesn't hold a candle to the one used on the show - way too "operatic", as mentioned by many, and harsh and even unpleasant-sounding to me. It took all the charm and candor right out of the song (in the show, they had a much more natural voice do the song). I also agree that the choir does not mesh well with the soloist.

If anyone knows where and if I can purchase a recording of this song done by a different singer (if it can be the one from the West Wing, I'll be thrilled), please, let me know. In the meantime, I'm passing on this CD...
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Format: Audio CD
For those listeners who want to understand the significance of the Reform movement, this CD is for you. What some of negative reviewers lack is a perspective of the Reform movement. Cantor Garfein eloquently chants the prayers of a movement that was heavily influenced by the secular world and the desire to assimilate. This music is a necessary part to understanding the history of Diaspora Judaism. This is Jewish performance music at its finest. Kol ha'kavod!
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Format: Audio CD
According to Rabbi Steven Franklin of Riverdale, NY, "Cantor Garfein is not only blessed with a voice which is truly a magnificent instrument, but she possesses impeccable musical taste and truly believes that music is a pathway to the Divine."
Regardless of your theological faith, the sound of Rebecca Garfein's voice will free you momentarily from the cares and concerns that make all of us a little grumpy at times.
Her voice seems to break free of the CD and wraps your soul in peace. This collection of 16 Jewish prayers and songs are made more ethereal by Cantor Garfein.
Any serious lover of classical music should add this CD to their collection.
I have heard Rebecca perform in person. If you have the opportunity to see this mezzo soprano, don't forsake the chance to lighten your step.
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Garfein's gorgeous voice interprets a largely unknown repertoire of first-rate reform Jewish liturgical music, with a few old favorites tossed in as a bonus. There are moments so sublime here that I shiver each time I hear them. Not to be missed!
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Format: Audio CD
This is a splendid hour-long presentation of cantorial music performed by one of the preeminent young cantors of our generation. For this concert, Cantor Garfein chose a varied and dazzling selection of sixteen cantorial pieces by distinguished liturgical composers and one secular piece by Charles Gounod. With the accompaniment of the excellent Pestalozzistrasse Choir, the Cantor brilliantly displays her vocal virtuosity while simultaneously reflecting a reverence for and sensitivity to the liturgical heritage of the Jewish people. Recorded live from the Berlin Jewish Cultural Festival of 1997, this CD is a musical treasure certain to become a collector's item.
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Format: Audio CD
This CD is truly inspirational. I listen to this CD all during the week as so many familiar Jewish chants and prayers are so beautifully sung. It gives me a sense of pride in the history of Judaism to hear this CD recorded in such a historic Synagogue. I plan to buy a copy for my Rabbi. Having met and heard Gantor Garfein sing in person, she is an extraordinarily warm and charming person which so eloquently comes across in her beautiful music. Thank you, Cantor.
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Cantor Rebecca Garfein has a magnificent voice which expresses the oft-overlooked nuances in the music she has chosen for this recording. Able to perform equally well in the metzo soprano and soprano ranges, the cantor delights the listener with thrilling high notes and sultry lower registers.
Organist-Choirmaster Arnold Ostlund, Jr. skillfully chooses registrations which enhance both the cantorial performance and the superb choral blend.
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Format: Audio CD
I highly recommend this CD filled with sacred chants . Cantor Garfein's voice is wonderful and this album is filled with spirituality and soul. A fabulous CD to give as a gift this Hanukkah season !
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