Where words won’t suffice, music leads the charge — Jewish Renaissance

This is a reflective session, beautifully played, of memory, passion, regret, rage and resignation. The album is without liner-note dates, background to the music or composer or musical analysis. We must take it ‘as it is’, provoking the listener to consider how we listen to music and what we expect from it.

For the Jewish listener there is an additional perspective. Both composers, of course, were Jewish and were of the first generation that launched the very notion of Jews as musicians capable of weaving musical magic in Europe in the 1800s.

As the violence of Hamas paradoxically heralds a new wave of Jew-hatred from some quarters, this music may cause Jewish listeners to reflect on their attachment to European culture across centuries of a sometimes equivocal reception.

By David Conway

Songs Without Words by Igor Levit is out now on Sony Music Classical.

This article appears in the Spring 2024 issue of JR.

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