Capriccio Hassidico is a classical composition by French guitarist Marc-Henry Cykiert based on two Yiddish songs from antiquity, "S'iz Nito Kayn Nechtn" and "LiChayim Rebe, Hot a Gute Voch." It is meant to be both a composition of resonance and projection into the 21st century. Indeed, in the liner notes, Richard Kalisz claims the composer's wish is for those who play and hear the music this is an exhortation to remember the trace. Pianist Frederic Rzewski is well-known for his playing and his composing. His deftness at straddling two sets of harmonic invention is almost unparalleled -- especially when it comes to American blues and ragtime and Eastern folk music. Michael Guttman is the first violin chair in the Rotterdam Symphony. Together, they weave through Cykiert's intricate sound world that takes us from the fifth century A.D. to the present day in five movements. There is the main theme, followed by a two-section "Rhapsodie," followed by a 14-part dance, followed by a 12-part variation, and ended with a thee-part song. If this sounds ambitious, and perhaps overly so, it is. Many of the variations are not variations at all but simple restatements of the major themes with only one or two measures changed. To what extent these play such an important role in this work is unknown, but it can be tedious listening. Nonetheless, most of the music here is truly compelling and moving; the dance section where Rzewski and Guttman turn around on three accented chromatic figures is particularly stunning. This is a provocative attempt at something untried; it deserves his marks for that and its considerable artistry.
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