Ernest Bloch

From Jewish Life, sketches (3) for cello & piano

    Description by Michael Jameson

    Ernest Bloch composed his three pieces From Jewish Life in 1924 and dedicated the set to Hans Kindler, solo cellist of the New York Philharmonic, who had previously given the successful premiere of the Hebraic Rhapsody for cello and orchestra "Schelomo" (Solomon), Bloch's best known work. Along with the suite Baal Shem (1923), and the Méditation hébraïque (1924), the triptych From Jewish Life belongs to a distinctive and unmistakable genus of pieces, in which Bloch's personal voice was now powerfully established as being "Jewish" in utterance above all else. But as the critic Erik Levi suggests, it is important to remember that "Bloch's Jewishness derived from an inner impulse, not through a conscious absorption of Hebraic folk elements." To this we could also add Bloch's own assertion: "it is neither my purpose nor desire to attempt a reconstruction of Jewish music, nor to base my work on more or less authentic melodies...I am not an archaeologist; for me the most important thing is to write good and sincere music."

    But as Erik Levi continues to suggest, "In essence Bloch's Jewish music is emotional in feeling and colored by an exotic atmosphere. The melodic lines are declamatory, emphasizing intervals of an augmented second, and are often supported by impressionist harmonies." These qualities are felt especially powerfully in From Jewish Life; the three pieces are titled: 1. "Prayer" (Andante moderato); 2. "Supplication" (Allegro non troppo); 3. "Jewish Song" (Moderato). The overall atmosphere is one of intense sadness and introspection, and the series is concerned far less with virtuosity than with the peculiar power of expression that invariably distinguished such archaic and timeless themes as Bloch chose to employ in this work.


    1. Prayer
    2. Supplication
    3. Jewish Song

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Musiques Suisses 6290
    2017 Nimbus / Nimbus Records NI 5943
    2017 Aparte AP 142
    2015 Sony Classical 88883762172
    2014 Harmonia Mundi HMA 1951810
    2013 Naïve NC 40034
    2013 Newton Classics 8802214
    2012 BBC Radio Collection / Hyperion CDA 67910
    2011 Tall Poppies TP 214
    2011 Naïve 5226
    2011 Philip Lawrence Borter
    2010 Praga 250271
    2010 BIS 1782
    2009 Centaur Records 2988
    2008 MSR Classics MS1247
    2005 Decca 4756327
    2005 Haenssler 93122
    2004 Harmonia Mundi 901810
    2004 Signum Classics / Signum UK 505
    2002 Our World 4006
    2000 Opus 111 OPS30-232
    1996 RCA Victor / RCA 425332
    1995 Koch / Koch Schwann 311542
    1993 Crystal Records Dist. 831
    1992 Chandos 6552
    1990 Chandos 8800
    Mark Custom Recording 3176