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Alberto Hemsi: Chamber Works

Alberto Hemsi: Chamber Works —ARC Ensemble (Chandos 20243)

An introduction is in order for a composer new to the WCLV library. Alberto Hemsi was born in 1898 in Anatolia—modern day Turkey.  His  parents had migrated from the Italian port city of Livorno which for centuries had hosted a bustling Sephardic community.  Alberto’s musical talents were revealed early and eventually he studied Ottoman music, cantorial music and he learned to play the flute, cornet, clarinet, trombone, and piano.  Hensi studied at the Milan Conservatory, whose illustrious graduates include Puccini and Mascagni in the late 19 th century and, more recently, Gian Carlo Menotti, Riccardo Muti, and Claudio Abbado.  Hemsi was drawn to Jewish musical traditions and felt compelled to survey the myriad communities spread throughout the vast Sephardic diaspora.  He began to visit many of them, fascinated by this heritage, and concerned about its survival.  But he also understood how traditional melodies, together with the various performance styles and conventions that supported them, could provide inspiration and nourishment for his own music.  This program of his chamber works—played by the Artists of the Royal Conservatory (ARC) in Toronto—includes two major works, the Pilpúl Sonata for violin and a Quintet for Viola & Strings, along with some charming miniatures: three Greek Nuptial Dances for cello & piano and Three Ancient Airs for string quartet from the composer’s Coplas Sefardies, along with a Meditation in Armenian Style .  The Strad called this disc, “A striking journey into a Sephardic world,” and MusicWeb-International.com said “This is another fine reclamation from the ARC Ensemble … all of whom play with considerable enthusiasm and technical accomplishment.”  You may remember another release by the ARC Ensemble featured on WCLV earlier in 2022, Chamber Works by Dmitri Klebanov.