The comic opera “The Tsar Wants His Photograph Taken” has an explicitly Jewish cast of characters.
In troubling times, some of this season’s most important artistic events are those that will elicit sorrow over joy. The mix is essential.
The German Jewish philosopher Ernst Bloch (1885–1977), not to be confused with the Swiss Jewish composer Ernest Bloch, is still remembered for such landmark books as “The Spirit of Utopia,” “The Principle of Hope,” and “The Utopian Function of Art and Literature: Selected Essays.”
Sometimes music achievement is directly associated with a degree of chutzpah. Generations have been moved by the stirring 1881 setting for cello and orchestra of “Kol Nidre” by Max Bruch, especially as performed with granitic Old Testament authority by Pablo Casals on Emi Classics. Only an audacious composer would dare to rival Bruch’s achievement, as is done by a 1970 Kol Nidre for cello and piano on Albany Records’s new CD, [“Alan Shulman: Works for Cello CD”].
The Babylonian Talmud counsels that at times of bitterest cold, it is best to say, “Such is the way of the world,” and then “observe eight days of festivity.” One such ideal post-winter solstice festivity for Manhattanites is a January 11 Carnegie Hall recital by America’s sweetheart of song, soprano Renée Fleming, in a program of German Jewish composers of art songs, including Arnold Schoenberg, Alexander Zemlinsky, and the ever-schmaltzy Erich Wolfgang Korngold.