"SHEMA': Primo Levi - From poem to song"
Original music project
Shulamit Ottolenghi – Artistic initiative, lyrics selection and voice
Frank London- composition, electronica & programming , trumpet
Shai Bachar- composition, electronica & programming, piano
Vision and Program:
Primo Levi 's poems, first published in the collection “Ad ora incerta” (“At an uncertain hour”; Garzanti, 1984), were recently retranslated into English by Jonathan Galassi, and remain an overlooked gem, unlike his world-renowned prose.
Written sporadically over the span of decades, Primo Levi's poems feel like a consistent whisper accompanying the more predominant voice of his prose. Yet it is in his poems he allows himself the most distilled, defenseless contact with his wounded inner core. This contact complements, rather than contradicts, his more conscious choice to believe in life after Auschwitz, so often implied in his other writings.
This bare approach to his violated soul gives these poems their extraordinary beauty. Levi’s restrained, yet relentless style demands a contemporary sound capable of unfolding the poems’ innate harmonies, allowing the poetical and musical voices to enhance each other.
The desire to arrange and perform these poems as songs was a natural choice for Italian-born Jewish singer Shulamit Ottolenghi, who has treasured them since she first read them many years ago. It was a similarly natural choice to turn to Grammy winner Frank London and to Shai Bachar to compose the music for this program.
This same ensemble successfully collaborated on “For you the sun will shine - Songs of women in the Shoa," which has received major acclaim from audiences and critics alike. The album explored the little-known work of female composers whose lives were touched or cut short by the Holocaust. Described as "Innovative, different and essential, in view of the known music of the Holocaust'' (Avantmusic.com, February 2016), it received four stars from the Financial Times (Album review, August 2015).
The artists believe that in this particular historical moment, a moment when rhetorical abuse of the memory of the Shoah is spreading, Primo Levi's crystal clear, morally unambiguous poetry and his warning against all perversions of power are more relevant than ever.
LISTEN TO: SHEMA'
With Hebrew translation:
LISTEN TO: SHEMA'
LISTEN TO: CANTARE
LISTEN TO: 25 FEBBRAIO 1944