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Turok’s Choice, March 2005

"The performances are excellent..."
"The Schola Hebraeica (Neil Levin) sings with precision."

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, March 2005

"...much of the music on this CD has the same hypnotic beauty to it that one finds in traditional chant."
" need not necessarily be Jewish to appreciate this music, its religious context, or its spiritual content, any more than one need necessarily be Roman Catholic to appreciate the sacred music of the Church."
"...there is a lot in these Jewish texts, especially those from the Tisha B'Av observances, that will have special resonance for those of the Jewish faith."
"Performances are very warm and convincingly authentic-sounding..."

Peter Rabinowitz
International Record Review, March 2005

"Perhaps the most illuminating disc, from a historical point of view..."
"...there is, from time to time, a surprising robustness to the rhythms, a robustness well captured by Rabbi-Hazzan Ira L. Rohde and the Schola Hebraeica, conducted by Levin."

William J. Gatens
American Record Guide, March 2005

"...I find [Hazzan Rohde's vocal tone] wonderfully evocative."
"Neil Levin's program notes are excellent."
"The recording quality is also very fine, nicely capturing the warm acoustic of the New West End Synagogue in London."

Rob Barnett
MusicWeb International, October 2004

"We are told that this CD ‘offers a rare and fascinating collection of synagogue melodies and biblical chants as they were sung in the early American Colonial period, throughout the Revolutionary War, and up through the early years of the new republic.’

Neil Levin, who is also the conductor, provides a learned but engaging commentary. These pieces often juxtapose the leading solo role of the cantor with the congregational voice of the choir. Hazzan Ira Rohde is the cantor whose fluid and fast-moving style keeps things dynamic. His voice is slightly nasal but very appealing. Only in Aseret (tr. 13) did I notice the voice coming under great strain. Many of these tracks are touched with a North African or a Spanish wand but one occasionally discerns a British (Holst) and French (Canteloube) folk-song influence. The sound of the choir (usually men only) is very strong and rounded. This choir is clearly very adept at subtle colouring and dynamic contouring. Similar accomplishments are shown by the children’s choir.

Mr Levin reminds us that the imported traditions that flourished in "New Amsterdam" (later New York) were Sephardic in origin. We are told that these pieces continue to enjoy an active life in America's oldest synagogues, Shearith Israel, established in 1654, and Mikve Israel, founded in 1782.

Sincere and unassuming music sensitively performed."

American Record Guide, April 2004

"Hazzan Rhode has a vocal tone wonderfully evocative and thoroughly appropriate in this music...Neil Levin's program notes are excellent...The recording quality is also very fine, nicely capturing the warm acoustic of the New West End Synagogue in London."

Max Dudious
Audiophile Audition, March 2004

"The anthropologist in me delights in the subtle performance variety at each place: the Sephardi influence in Spain - the Ashkenazi in Gothenburg - the Progressive (or Reformed) in Munich. The sociologist gets snapshot impressions of the congregants and how the community is doing. The musicologist makes a passing nod at the different ways of singing the ancient chants and prayers at each service...This is too pretty...If you'd like to know more about historic performance of liturgical Jewish music, this recording is authoritative. It features a highly knowledgeable group of performers, well recorded. It includes an equally knowledgeable booklet that traces the development of the Jewish community in the Western Hemisphere. A must for collectors."

Fanfare, March 2004

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John Guinn
The Oakland Press

"...unusually haunting music, with a distinctive combination of serenity and boldness...performed with an authenticity that could only come from performers steeped in its tradition."

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