Canciones de Sefarad

Empezar quiero contar: Canciones de Sefarad
Judith R. Cohen, Tamar Ilana Cohen Adams
Pneuma « Colección Historica (Judeo-Sephardi) » CDPN-270


    Ovadiah ha-Ger ("the Proselyte"), early 12th century
  1. Mi al har Khorev

  2. Dunash ibn Labrat (t) / Trad., Yemeni
  3. Dror Yiqra

  4. Wife of Dunash ibn Labrat (t, attr.) / Beatriz de Día (m) / [Contrafact by Judith R. Cohen, 1997]
  5. Hayizkor hakhen yedida / A chantar m'er

  6. Anon., Bulgaria
  7. Judeo-Spanish wedding song: De hoy en este día (instr.)

  8. Anon., Morocco / Eastern Mediterranean
  9. Judeo-Spanish love song: Ay, madre

  10. Anon., Morocco
  11. Judeo-Spanish romance: La envenenadora

  12. Anon., Morocco
  13. Judeo-Spanish romance: De Burgos partió el rey (instr.)

  14. Mathieu le Juif
  15. Pour autrui movrai mon chant

  16. Vidal de Elvas (t) / Guiraut de Riquer (m) / [Contrafact by Judith R. Cohen, 1997]
  17. a) Moir'e faço dereito / Pus astres no m'es donatz
    Vidal de Elvas (t) / Alfonso X "El Sábio" (m) / [Contrafact by Judith R. Cohen, 1997]
    b) E mal día non ensando ei / Cantiga 49: Ben com' aos que van per mar

  18. Trad., Tras-os-Montes, Portugal
  19. O pandeiro

  20. Trad., Beira Baixa, Portugal
  21. A padeirinha

  22. Anon., Morocco, (arr. Judith R. Cohen, 1994)
  23. Judeo-Spanish hiloula song: Adonde váis, Señor Yitzkhak?

  24. Anon., Morocco
  25. Judeo-Spanish coplas: Ester mi bien (Los Tres padres de Israel)

  26. Anon., Eastern Mediterranean
  27. Judeo-Spanish coplas: Allá en el midbar (instrumental)

  28. Anon., Morocco
  29. Judeo-Spanish Purim song: Coplas de Purím

  30. Anon., Greece (Salonica)
  31. Judeo-Spanish Purim song: Coplas de Purím

  32. Anon., Morocco
  33. Song for Passover (Hebrew): Ashira keshirat Moshe

  34. Anon., Morocco
  35. Judeo-Spanish wedding song: Ansí se me arrimó

  36. Anon., Morocco
  37. Judeo-Spanish song (seguidillas): A la puerta del río

Playing time: 59' 30"

Judith R. Cohen (voice, medieval fiddle, drums), Tamar Ilana Cohen Adams (voice, drum, shells), Eduardo Paniagua (kanun, arab flutes, tambourine, triangle, sistro), Wafir Sheik (arab lute, viola), David Mayoral (drums, tympani, tambourine, bells)

Recording site and date:
Madrid, Spain [08/2000]

[5] Pneuma « Colección Historica (Tres culturas) » PN-1200 [CD] Cantos de Mujeres en las Tres Culturas / Female voices in the three cultures – Spanish Christians, Jews and Muslims in the Middle Ages
[11] Pneuma PN-800 [CD] Puentes sobre el Mediterráneo: Dialogo musical de las culturas medievales del Mediterráneo
[13] Pneuma PN-370 La llamada de Al-Andalus - The Call of Al-Andalus: Obras maestras de la colección Al-Andalus de Pneuma

Reviewed in:
Diapason (#-p.):
Gramophone (Vol./#-p.):
Fanfare (Vol./#-p.): 25/5-243 (may/june 2002)
Goldberg (#-p.):

Information from owned CD and Judith R. Cohen. She wrote:
"Empezo quiero contar" - "I'd like to begin to tell the story...." We've chosen this opening line of the Moroccan Judeo-Spanish Purim song as the title of our recording, for it's meant to tell a story in its own way, linking the songs of Sefarad - the traditional Jewish name for the Iberian Peninsula, and by extension, Sephardic culture - to their roots in medieval Jewish Iberia. Of today's Sephardic repertoire, there are no songs which can actually be said to be medieval. Many of the texts do have their roots in medieval or Renaissance Spain, but their melodies are not medieval: rather, they are part of an oral tradition which has developed over centuries, continents and cultures into the unique blend making Judeo-Spanish songs what they are today. At the same time, the Jewish poetry of medieval Spain remains mostly unsung, because it has not come down to us with its melodies. So I have experimented with contrafacta: setting some of these poems to medieval melodies which the poets may have known. Other songs we have chosen have very old texts, or very old themes, although the actual texts may not be medieval. We've also included two regional Portuguese songs, which Tamar and I learned while conducting fieldwork in areas where Crypto-Judaism is still practiced. We have tried to preserve a traditional vocal style, based on fieldwork over the years in Sephardic and Mediterranean communities: for the Middle Ages, of course, any attempt at re-creating vocal style can be only speculative. Some of the instrumentation is entirely traditional (which occasionally means there is none); in other cases, such as the romance La Envenedadora, Eduardo and Wafir have added accompaniments, providing some of the sound texture of Sephardic worlds of both Middle Ages and today's Mediterranean cultures.

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Pierre-F. Roberge