Josefina Urraca, pianoJulia Yang, cello

  • Written in 1914
  • Live recorded November 12, 2023

Maurice Ravel, a towering figure in early 20th-century French music, is celebrated for his masterful orchestration and innovative harmonic language. While often linked to the Impressionist movement, Ravel’s compositions reveal a unique voice characterized by precision, elegance, and a profound emotional depth.

“Kaddish” is part of Ravel’s “Deux mélodies hébraïques,” composed in 1914. The term “Kaddish” refers to an ancient Aramaic prayer in Jewish tradition, recited in mourning rituals and ceremonies that praise and sanctify God’s name. This prayer is deeply rooted in the cultural and spiritual fabric of Judaism, embodying themes of loss, remembrance, and hope.

Initially written for voice and piano, “Kaddish” has been transcribed for various instrumental combinations, including this evocative version for cello and piano. In this arrangement, the cello assumes the role of the cantor, articulating the prayer’s plaintive and soulful melody, while the piano provides a delicate and supportive harmonic texture.

The piece opens with a haunting and lyrical theme in the cello, capturing the melismatic quality of Jewish chant. Ravel’s sensitivity to the prayer’s emotional weight is evident in the music’s introspective and meditative character. As the piece progresses, the interplay between the cello and piano deepens, creating an intimate dialogue that resonates with the themes of reverence and spiritual introspection.

“Kaddish” for Cello and Piano stands as a testament to Ravel’s ability to transcend cultural boundaries, infusing his music with universal expressions of human experience. This piece remains a poignant and cherished work, celebrated for its emotional depth, profound simplicity, and the evocative power of its melodies.

Performance Context:

This performance of Ravel’s “Kaddish” is part of the CIRCLE NOIR (PART I) program, presented by CreArtBox. Featuring Josefina Urraca on piano, Guillermo Laporta on flute, and Julia Yang on cello, the program showcases a diverse selection of works, blending classical masterpieces with contemporary compositions. The concert takes place on a 360-degree platform at The William Vale, creating an immersive experience that blurs the boundaries between performers and audience.

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