Now Released

Paul LEWIS (b. 1943)
Songs of Israel, for harp and string quintet [18:46]
Memories of Amboise, for solo harp (2020) [9:09]
Concerto Romantico, for harp and strings (2020) [26:44]
Rachel Talitman (harp)
Israel Strings Ensemble/Doron Salomon
HARP & COMPANY CD5050-46 [54:39]

WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING

L’interprétation de Rachel Talitman et des excellents musiciens de l’Israël Strings Ensemble sous la direction du réputé Doron Salomon est rayonnante. Ce disque est un voyage musical alternant la passion, la sensibilité, les rêveries, le fantastique avec des mélodies sensibles

Crescendo Magazine

beautiful and sensitively played music that appeals in its timeless romantic form.
Rachel Talitman’s wonderful harp playing adds a particularly lovely touch to the CD

Pizzicato.lu, – Remy Franck
Paul Lewis

Review

Le 4 septembre 2021 par Carlo Schreiber, Crescendo Magazine

Paul Lewis (°1943) : Musique romantique pour harpe et cordes. Rachel Talitman, harpe ; Israël Strings Ensemble sous la direction de : Doron Salomon. 2021. Livret en anglais. 52’79.  Harp & Co. CD 505046

La harpiste israélienne Rachel Talitman a créé en 2004 son label indépendant Harp &Co. La discographie de Harp & Co est variée et originale, plus de 50 enregistrements couvrant différents registres du répertoire de son instrument : concertos, musique de chambre et récitals de l’époque baroque (G.F. Haendel) aux raretés de la musique du XXe siècle. (Mieczyslaw Weinberg) en passant par des créations contemporaines. Plusieurs compositeurs ont dédié des compositions à Rachel Talitman et ses amis. C’est un apport considérable pour le répertoire de la harpe.

Le compositeur britannique Paul Lewis a composé plus de 150 partitions pour des séries télévisées. Depuis 10 ans, il compose également des oeuvres symphoniques et concertantes et la harpe est son instrument de prédilection. Sa rencontre avec Rachel Talitman a donné naissance à cet album. 

Ses compositions sont romantiques, très colorées, vivantes et mélodieuses. Elles rappellent les partitions légendaires de John Williams. Songs of Israël est une suite de thèmes populaires habilement arrangés. La fantaisie Shalom Haverim fait chanter la harpe entourée du quintette à cordes. On passe d’une mélodie nostalgique, à une valse espiègle pour terminer par un thème klezmer. La célèbre chanson Hava Nagila devient une Rumba endiablée alors que Mevo Hama Nocturne est un songe nostalgique.

Souvenirs d’Amboise est une rêverie pleine de tendresse, qui évoque les rencontres de Paul Lewis avec la propriétaire espagnole de l’hôtel Au Cheval Blanc et celles de la Pâtisserie Bigot. 

L’album présente également le Concerto Romantico. Il était originalement composé pour un film qui n’a finalement pas été tourné. On imagine parfaitement le scénario grâce à la musique. Un savant mélange de thèmes nostalgiques, rhapsodiques, jazzy.

L’interprétation de Rachel Talitman et des excellents musiciens de l’Israël Strings Ensemble sous la direction du réputé Doron Salomon est rayonnante. 

Ce disque est un voyage musical alternant la passion, la sensibilité, les rêveries, le fantastique avec des mélodies sensibles

Son: 9   Livret : 8   Répertoire : 9   Interprétation : 10

Paul Lewis

Crescendo Magazine

13/09/2021, Pizzicato.lu, – Rezension von Remy Franck

Paul Lewis (*1943) ist ein bekannter britischer Film- und Fernsehkomponist, der im klassischen Bereich zur sogenannten British Light Music zu zählen ist. Als solcher ist er gefordert, viele und vor allem gute Einfälle zu haben. Diese CD beweist, dass er darin vortrefflich reüssiert.

In Songs of Israel komponierte er brillante Fantasien um die Lieder Shalom Chaverim, Mevo Hama und Hava Nagila und in den Solostücken Memories of Ambroise verarbeitet er schöne Erinnerungen an einen idyllischen Aufenthalt in der französischen Loire-Stadt, die Rachel Talitman in einen lebhaften und ausdrucksvollen Spiel zu Gehör bringt.

Das Concerto Romantico für Harfe und Streicher beginnt mit einer üppigen Cantilena Rapsodica. Die Melodie kommt aus einer Filmmusik zu einem Film, der letztlich nie gedreht wurde: « Zweiter Weltkrieg: Ein Mann und eine Frau sehen sich durch den Zaun eines Nazi-Konzentrationslagers und verlieben sich ineinander. Sie überleben den Krieg, aber keiner weiß, ob der andere noch lebt. Viele Jahre vergehen, sie vergessen sich nie, dann treffen sie sich plötzlich zufällig, erkennen sich wieder und merken, dass sie sich immer noch lieben. » Die Trennung ist im schmerzlichen Bitter-Sweet Blues unschwer zu erkennen, während das Moto Perpetuo beschreibt, wie das Leben weitergeht und der letzte Satz greift das Liebesthema aus dem 1. Satz wieder auf und beschreibt das Wiederaufflammen der ehemaligen Liebe. Das alles ergibt eine schöne und einfühlsam gespielte Musik, die in ihrer zeitlos romantischen Form anspricht.

Rachel Talitmans wunderbares Harfenspiel gibt der CD einen besonders liebenswerten Touch.

Paul Lewis (*1943) is a well-known British film and television composer, who in the classical field belongs to the so-called British Light Music. As such he is required to have many and above all good ideas. This CD proves that he succeeds admirably in this task.
In Songs of Israel he composed brilliant fantasies around the songs Shalom Chaverim, Mevo Hama and Hava Nagila, and in the solo pieces Memories of Ambroise he processes beautiful memories of an idyllic stay in the French Loire town, which Rachel Talitman expresses in a lively and sensitive playing.
Concerto Romantico for harp and strings opens with a lush Cantilena Rapsodica. The melody comes from a score to a movie that was ultimately never made: « World War II: a man and a woman see one another through the fence at a Nazi concentration camp and fall in love. They survive the war but neither knows if the other is still alive. Many years pass; they never forget each other, then suddenly they meet by chance, recognise one another and realise they are still in love. » The separation is readily apparent in the painful Bitter-Sweet Blues, while the Moto Perpetuo describes how life goes on, and the last movement picks up the love theme from the 1st movement and wonderfully describes the rekindling of former love. It all adds up to beautiful and sensitively played music that appeals in its timeless romantic form.
Rachel Talitman’s wonderful harp playing adds a particularly lovely touch to the CD.

Music Web International, from John France:

In the composer’s brief biography in the insert, we read: “At the heart of [Paul Lewis’s] output is his favourite instrument, the harp, for which he has produced an extensive catalogue of solo, chamber and concertante works, culminating in the concerto recorded here.” Harpist Rachel Talitman has an equally prolific recording career. Lewis notes that this is “her sixtieth album – surely a unique achievement for a harpist”.

I was a little disappointed with the Songs of Israel. One is always reminded of Constant Lambert’s dictum: the only thing that can be done with a folk song is to play it again – louder. And that applies to Scottish, Irish, Hungarian or Hebrew exemplars. To be fair, Lewis has tried to avoid Lambert’s warning. The opening movement, Shalom Chaverim Fantasia, takes a traditional song of farewell to old friends, and amends and transforms it in a variety of subtle ways. Equally transformative is the “rumba-fication” of Hava Nagila, a 19th century melody of Ukrainian origin put here through its paces. The composer explains that the final movement presents a tune of his own devising, Mevo Hama Nocturne. It is an elegy to his wife’s aunt Helen Corran. Despite Lewis’s skillful manipulation of these folk tunes, there is always a danger of falling into a pastiche of Fiddler on the Roof. Whether this fear is justified or not, the listener will decide. Despite my concerns, the result is often magical and quite lovely.

I liked Memories of Amboise for harp solo best. It was inspired by Paul Lewis’s several visits to this beautiful Loire Valley town since 1978. The music is dedicated to the four ladies who offered hospitality at Le Cheval Blanc hotel (still there). Back in the day, the proprietress, Teresa, was a Spanish lady whose “animated gestures of a flamenco dancer quite disarmed” the composer. He began writing this work on his arrival back in England. Wistfully, he remarks that this lady moved away from Amboise, possibly unaware of the music she inspired. This first piece, Au Cheval Blanc, is full of Iberian rather than Gallic tropes. Both flamenco dancing and sultry southern nights seem to dominate. It is a wonderful Spanish tone poem. The second piece recalls La Patisserie Bigot (also still in business), Lewis’s favourite Salon de The in the town. He was lucky enough to know all three of the Bigot family matriarchs who ran the premises. The music here is gentle, thoughtful and ultimately timeless, as befits the longevity of the family concern. The music was completed in 2020, at the request of the present soloist.

The Concerto Romantico is equally enjoyable. It has its basis in an unwritten film score. The movie was to have been a wartime story about a man and woman who meet briefly in a German concentration camp and fall in love. The plot revolved round their rediscovery of each other after the war, and the enduring nature of their love. I understand that the film was never made. However, on the strength of a possible contract, Lewis had already devised the main theme. This was later re-used in a series of romantic variations for a proposed CD. This project also never came to pass. Rachel Talitman asked Lewis for a concerto that would have a similar effect as his well-loved Rosa Mundi for string orchestra – one of the most beautiful string orchestra works by any composer, ever! Lewis obliged with this four-movement concerto completed in February 2020. The original love theme, written back in the 1990, heard in the first and last movements, provides a satisfying cyclical structure. The second is the most challenging section: a blues and jazz theme is heard, with several interruptions. The “scherzo” is a moto perpetuo that balances anger, wistfulness and nervous energy. In other words, life carrying on as “normal”. Naturally, the concerto comes to a happy conclusion, with lovers reunited in “quiet contentment.” Never mind its deeply emotional programme of love lost and found, this remarkable concerto can be listened to as absolute music.

Now for the liner notes. Paul Lewis’s commentary on all three works is ideal. There is lots of relevant background information, and a brief biography of the composer and the conductor. For some reason, nothing is written about the harp soloist. (The font is quite small, so a downloadable PDF file would have been of value but none is available at the Harp & Company CD webpage.) The recording dates and venues are not given. The composition dates are absent from the track listing, although to be fair, the text does place two of the pieces in 2020. There are photos of the composer and the conductor, and a very indistinct snap of the soloist hidden behind the harp strings. The evocative painting used on the CD cover is not acknowledged.

This is a most enjoyable recital. My one caveat is that it is best listened to one piece at a time. For harp enthusiasts, it is a valuable addition to their collection. The music is always approachable, with nothing too challenging. Rachel Talitman’s playing sounds to my ear like sheer perfection. The band make a valuable contribution in supporting the soloist.

John France

CULTUURPAKT, written by Knopskaya augustus 22, 2021

Met haar label Harp&co weet Rachel Talitman telkens nieuwe paden te bewandelen. Ze brengt oude muziek tot leven en inspireert hedendaagse componisten zodanig dat ze met graagte in haar droomwereld binnentreden. Romantiek is net als het strelen van gevoelens en bevestiging van identiteit tijdloos. Dat had componist Paul Lewis (geb. 1943) goed begrepen tijdens het componeren voor Rachel Talitman en het Israel Strings Ensemble. De uitvoering die u op dit album kunt horen werd gedirigeerd door Doron Salomon. Zijn expertise is gekend in vier windstreken en op evenveel continenten.

Monty Python
Paul Lewis houdt van drama en literatuur op z’n Orson Welles’, maar ook van een flinke brok satire. Al dat kon hij ten volle beleven tijdens zijn carrière bij de BBC. Zo werkte bij bvb. mee aan producties zoals Benny Hill en Monty Python. Toch is en blijft zijn favoriete instrument de harp, het instrument dat  hem zo dicht brengt bij alle historische figuren die hem wisten te inspireren. Zo kwam hij op het pad van Talitman en ontstond er muzikaal vuurwerk en symbiose. Op dit album , zijn zestigste trouwens, wist hij zich ten volle te geven. De schijf staat vol sentiment, nostalgie en getuigt van niets dan warmte.

Kibbutz
Bovenop de liefde voor de harp, delen Talitman en Lewis hun afkomst, beiden hadden een Russisch Joodse grootvader. Lewis’ echtgenote had een tante die in 1960 naar de Kibbutz vertrok, om kort daarna te sterven. Dit alles zorgde voor de creatie van Songs of Israel. Het mooie is dat het een driedelig werk is over afscheid en vertrek, en toch hoort men zoveel invloeden, tot zelfs rumba toe – als de echo van een volk dat overal thuis is en toch weemoed  en heimwee kent naar het land van de voorvaderen.

Pâtisserie
Toch eindigt het verhaal helemaal niet in Israël, maar in Frankrijk . De volgende compositie, Memories of Amboise, brengt een lieflijke mijmering over fijne herinneringen van samenzijn. Lewis herinnert zich het hotel en de lokale bakker, de lieftallige dames achter de schermen en vergelijkt hun gastvrijheid aan die van Talitman.

Script
Verloren en teruggevonden liefde. Een jong koppel kijkt mekaar in Auschwitz in de ogen en wordt verliefd. Jaren later blijken ze beiden nog in leven en komen ze mekaar opnieuw tegen. De vlam slaat opnieuw over. Het was het scenario voor een film dat op Lewis’ bureau terechtkwam. De film werd nooit gemaakt, maar het verhaal raakte de componist zozeer dat hij wel moest schrijven. Verdriet, verlangen, weemoed, een rapsodie en tenslotte een bluesachtig gedeelte waarbij de gitaar vervangen wordt door een viool. De opening naar de nieuwe wereld. Concerto Romantico. Uiteindelijk komt alles goed, het leven wordt hernomen en kan kabbelen.

Een prachtig doosje vol al die dingen waar u uw hart aan op kunt halen, echte gevoelens, dat wat ons mens maakt – What music is all about

Britishmusicsociety, written by Gary Higginson

Writing for the harp is quite an acquired skill, as I have learned from experience, but composers can, with guidance and study, get ‘the knack’ and then all is well.

Paul Lewis has been a prolific writer for the instrument, and he has gained more than a ‘knack’ – he writes not only idiomatically but also very imaginatively, and he understands how to balance the instrument with an ensemble, as two of the following three works amply demonstrate.

The Concerto Romantico was written for Rachel Talitman, and is a luscious and very romantic work in four movements, with titles like Bitter-Sweet Blues and Cantilena. And if you think that it sounds like some one who writes film or television music then you are quite right, as not only has Lewis devoted much of his life doing just that, but also some of the ideas were the outcome of a film scenario of two lovers who, after several years, joyously meet up once more. The film never materialised but this concerto was eventually realised from its material. The Israel Strings under Salomon also make ideal advocates for Lewis’s dreamy soundworld.

Another work written especially for Rachel Talitman is Songs of Israel for harp and string quartet, which has three sections each based on a Jewish melody, beginning with a Fantasia on Shalom, Cheverim. This well-known tune, also used as a hymn in the UK, is a song of farewell in Israel, and Lewis subjects it to a variety of interesting treatments. The second movement uses the even more famous Hava Baglia which becomes a Rumba without however losing its Jewish character.

Finally, we hear Mevo Hama, which, as a Nocturne, acts a suitable contrast. Both Lewis and Talitman have Russian-Jewish ancestry and this movement is an elegy to the composer’s aunt who is buried on the Golan Heights. Some of the string writing is fascinating – both evocative and chilling.

Memories of Amboise for solo harp concerns the lovely ancient town in the Loire Valley, very dear to Paul Lewis. The two movements are Au Cheval Blanc which concerns a favourite very hospitable hotel and restaurant run by a Spanish family, and La Pâtisserie Bigot which is “my favourite salon de thé” (composer’s insert notes). The music is very gentle but lacks any distinctive French character.

This is some of the most relaxing and easy-going music I have encountered for some time, and if it has a strong appeal to you then why not snap it up immediately?

Review by Gary Higginson

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