Di Sheyne Milnerin: Schubert’s cycle of love forlorn retold in Yiddish song

“As heart-rending as the Schubert cycle … this is a fascinating issue …”

Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin receives a brilliant homage and reinvention with Di Sheyne Milnerin, an originally-devised cycle of twenty songs from the Yiddish repertoire forged into a narrative cycle. Bass-baritone Mark Glanville and pianist Alexander Knapp (also arranger and composer) perform a wonderful variety of Yiddish songs, including arrangements of many well-loved traditional melodies. As in Schubert’s original, Di Sheyne Milnerin follows a compelling dramatic trajectory, telling a heart-wrenching tale of unrequited love. The recording follows the success of the duo’s widely-performed, Holocaust-focused program and recording, A Yiddish Winterreise. The Nimbus Records release is available now from Allegro Classical.

At once a celebration of Yiddishkayt and a reflection of the rich symbiosis that once existed between the German and Jewish cultures — one of the intangible victims of the Holocaust, to which both Glanville and Knapp are inextricably linked through the loss of members of their families — Di Sheyne Milnerin includes compositions by a number of celebrated Jewish composers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Mark Warschawsky’s “Dem milners trern” (The miller’s tears) begins the cycle, which also features the traditional “Tsvey taybelekh” (Two doves), sung in the style of a cantorial recitative, and the nostalgic “Vu iz dos gesele” (Where is the little street) describing the descent from high expectation to despair. One song from the original cycle is retained in a direct translation: Schubert’s “Am Feirabend,” here “Nokh der Arbet.” Pianist Alexander Knapp contributed eight original arrangements to the recording as well as one new composition, “Himen” (Anthem), a tribute to the great Yiddish poet Abraham Sutzkever, who died in 2010.  The cycle concludes with “Di zun vet aruntergeyn” (The sun is setting) by Ben Yomen, which pays homage to Schubert’s “Ständchen.”

British bass-baritone Mark Glanville has appeared with Opera North (King of Clubs, Love for Three Oranges; King, Aida; Nourabad, Pearl Fishers), and Scottish Opera (Commendatore, Don Giovanni) as well as in roles with Lisbon Opera, New Israeli Opera and Opera Omaha. As a concert singer he has performed with Lord Menuhin, Daniele Gatti, Pascal Tortelier, Sir David Willcocks and Stanislaw Skrowaczewski.  Glanville is also a widely-published journalist and author specializing in opera, classical singing, Jewish literature and history. His memoir, The Goldberg Variations, was shortlisted for the Wingate Prize for Jewish Literature An expert on Jewish music, pianist, writer, composer and arranger Alexander Knapp has presented his music and scholarly writing around the world. Di Sheyne Milnerin will be performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC in November 2013.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *