Exaltation  /  Yaniv d'Or · Ensemble Naya

Naxos 8.573980



1. Exaltation   [5:17]
Yaniv d’Or (b. 1975), Israel — Catholic chant, arr. Ensemble NAYA

2. Rosa das Rosas   [2:57]   CSM  10
Alfonso X el Sabio (1221–1284), Spain — Cantigas de Santa Maria

3. Ma belle, si ton âme   [3:43]
Jean-Baptiste Besard (1567–1625), France

4. Barechu   [2:12]
Salamone Rossi (1570–1630), Italy

5. El nora alila   [3:10]
Traditional Sephardi, Libya / Rabbi Moshe Ibn Ezra (1055–1140), Spain

6. Demedim Mi   [6:43]
Traditional Sufi, Turkey

7. A la nana y a la buba   [2:27]
Traditional Sephardi, Spain

8. Se l’aura spira tutta vezzosa   [2:36]
Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583–1643), Italy — Primo libro d’arie musicali

9. La mañana de San Juan   [4:00]
Traditional Sephardi, Spain   [sic]

10. Aşkın ile aşıklar   [4:38]
Traditional Sufi, Turkey

11. Ya viene el cativo   [5:37]
Traditional Sephardi, Spain 

12. Yemei Horpi   [5:19]
Traditional Bosnian, arr. Shem-Tov Levi — Rabbi Israel N’Gara (1555–1628), Safed

13. Mareta, mareta no’m faces plorar   [5:22]
Anonymous Alicante lullaby (1700), Catalonia   [sic]

14. Üsküdara Gideriken – Kâtibim   [4:21]
Traditional, Ottoman Turkey (18th Century)

15. Lamma bada   [4:38]
Muwashah of Arab-Andalusian tradition (1492), Spain

16. Nana   [7:13]
Manuel de Falla (1876–1946), Spain — Siete canciones populares españolas, V (1914)

Yaniv d’Or — countertenor

Ensemble NAYA
Eyal Leber — classical guitar, glamenco guitar
Amit Tiefenbrunn — viola da gamba
Marvin Dillmann — didgeridoo, shofar, percussion
Erez Mounk — percussion
Murat Cakmaz — ney, duduk, voice
Nadav Ovadia — psalterium
Bari Moscovitz — theorbo

Exaltation is the third recording in a trilogy by singer Yaniv d’Or with Ensemble NAYA. It follows Liquefacta est released in 2013, which contained settings of the Song of Solomon, and Latino Ladino in 2015 (8.573566), which focused on music of the Sephardic diaspora after the 1492 expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Spain. Exaltation is an essentially joyful album celebrating the spirit that binds the wandering communities, the gods they worship and the hopes they share for loving co-existence.

The contents are connected in twos and threes. D’Or speaks of three themes – distance, humanity and religion – interweaving through the tracks. The first song is the title track, Exaltation, composed by d’Or himself with elements of the three faiths, Judaism in the Hebrew prayer Shema Israel (‘Hear, O Israel’), Islam in the Arab affirmation Allah Hu (‘God is’) and Christianity in the opening words of Psalm 89, Misericordias domini (‘The Mercy of the Lord’). The psalms of David are sacred in all three beliefs.

A meditative drone enters this opening number, played by Marvin Dillman on the didgeridoo, an instrument native to Australia and dating back almost two thousand years, distant both in place and time. The group NAYA is an aural representation of the diaspora, combining instruments of different cultures and ages. Authenticity is not a consideration here. Nor is it a case of wandering exiles for whom any instrument will do.

The didgeridoo’s fellow wind instrument is the ney flute which was played by the Sumerians of Mesopotamia three thousand years ago. It is played here by Murat Cakmaz. The ney’s plaintive tone features in the second track, Rosa das Rosas (‘Rose of Roses’) alongside the Flamenco guitar (Eyal Leber) and the viola da gamba (Amit Tiefenbrunn), both of Spanish origin and both indebted for their dissemination to migrating communities leaving Spain. Their origins lay in an enlightened culture which in the second half of the 13th century was the norm at a Spanish court comprising equal numbers of Christians, Jews and Muslims under Alfonso X el Sabio (‘the Wise’), king of Castile from 1252 to 1284. Musical instrument manufacture thrived in the peaceful environment. The king was also a poet and musician and contributed to one of the great treasures of medieval Europe, the illustrated manuscript Cantigas de Santa Maria, a collection of 420 love songs (cantigas) with music addressed to St Mary the Virgin. The single scores date from about 1250–1280 and are among the earliest examples of written music. The robust triple metre has echoed down the centuries, suggesting dance. The alien modal intervals sound modern. The form is a villancico which has a catchy refrain sung to the title words, Rosa das Rosas.

The entire ensemble plays the instrumental Ma belle, si ton âme (‘My beautiful one, if your soul’) by French lutenist and composer Jean-Baptiste Besard, a contemporary of England’s John Dowland, whom he may have met at the music-loving court of Hesse in Germany, where one succeeded the other as court lutenist in the 1590s. Both were migrants for economic reasons – musicians have always been peripatetic and the concept of the wandering minstrel is medieval. Even with all his travelling, Besard would not have known half of the instruments which complete NAYA’s line-up. After the two wind players come the folksy hammer-struck, distinctly eastern psalterium (Nadav Ovadia), the large lute-like and distinctly western theorbo (Bari Moscovitz) and a range of percussion (Erez Mounk) from everywhere. There is even an unintended addition of the church bell at the recording location at Franc-Waret, Belgium, which chimed the hour like a funeral knell during Besard’s plangent invention. As with Dowland, his work is infused with 16th-century melancholy.

A second instrumental item at the more carefree end of the programme takes us in spirit to Turkey and features the ney flute. Üsküdara Gideriken (‘On the Way to Oskudara’) is a well-known 18th-century Turkish folk song, traditionally sung by a woman of means about her handsome secretary for whom she fills a cloth with Turkish delight as they travel a distance together. The secretary falls asleep in the coach. In this wordless version, the woman’s simpering is characteristically rendered by the ney.

The concept of the first theme, ‘distance’, pervades the recording in references to exile and travel. Musicians still wander and in summer 2018, d’Or was employed in Sweden at the beautifully preserved 17th-century theatre at Drottningholm, singing the part of Jewish Italian Baroque composer Salamone Rossi in the modern pastiche opera The Siblings of Mantua with borrowed music by Rossi and his contemporaries, Monteverdi and Caccini. It tells the true story of brother and sister Salamone and Europa Rossi, both professional musicians in Duke Gonzaga’s opera-mad Mantua. Madama Europa sang in Monteverdi’s lost opera Arianna in 1609, though not in the title role, but she is believed to have sung the show’s famous Lamento d’Arianna (lasciate mi morire) in subsequent years. She probably also sang her brother’s setting of the prayer Barechu (‘Praise the Lord’) as d’Or does here in Hebrew. It is a song of praise for God’s bounty. Jewish communities contributed significantly to the wealth of Mantua and other Italian cities in the years after the exodus from Spain.

The Italian composer, Girolamo Frescobaldi, was organist of St Peter’s in Rome for most of his career, but at age 45, he took a position at the Medici family chapel in Florence for five years. The name Frescobaldi was well known in Florence as that of a banking family, moneylenders to the King of England, although it is an open question whether the composer was related. There in 1630, Frescobaldi published two collections of madrigals, vocal music mostly for two or three voices, and a few for solo singer accompanied by theorbo. The solo madrigal tended towards theatricality as if it were an extract from an opera, and often was. Frescobaldi’s Se l’aura spira tutta vezzosa (‘When the graceful breeze blows’) is a joyful song of love for nature and the dance from the first book, the Primo libro d’arie musicali.

Large numbers of refugees landed on the coast of Libya and established communities around the ruins of ancient Roman colonies. D’Or’s ancestors were among them and the singer had only to dip into his heritage for the beautiful Sephardi song El nora alila (‘God of awe’), a prayer for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The words are by the 11th-century poet Moshe Ibn Ezra (1055–1140), a Spanish rabbi who wrote Arabic poetry. It is sung unaccompanied except for a single instrument: the shofar, the ram’s horn blown in Jewish ceremonies.

As with all religions, Islam has a mystic and spiritual side which the West identified and called Sufism after the heavy cloth, the suf, worn by the dancing priests. Sufists are ascetics, practising self-denial and concentrating the mind by chanting mantras and inducing trances, often through repetitive dancing rituals. The Sufi song Demedim Mi (‘Haven’t I Told You?’) asks its rhetorical question with increasing urgency as the music accelerates and the dancers spin.

The same happens in the other Sufi song on this album, Aşkin ile aşiklar (‘With your eternal love’) which equates amorous with religious love and both with the effects of wine. The ritual of courtship in exiled communities is treated with reverence and great celebration as it represents the future of the culture. As the song grows in intensity, the instruments multiply. A second singer appears, the ney player Murat Cakmaz, intoning the muezzin’s call to wake up and giving a familiar social context to the song.

D’Or and Murat also duet in the Arab-Andalusian love song Lamma bada (‘When I saw my love’), from before 1492 when Arabs and Andalusians were still united. Their two-part vocal line soars over unison instruments. The song appreciates the beloved’s graceful swaying movement, pliable as the branch of a tree. On the other hand, the traditional Sephardi song Ya viene el cativo (‘Here comes the captive’) deals with love between members of different communities. The singer notices a fair skinned girl among forlorn prisoners. Her paleness emphasises her frailty, her anxiety keeps her awake and she sings her sorrow in the darkness before dawn, her voice echoed in the ney flute.

The traditional Sephardi song, La mañana de San Juan (‘On the morning of St John’s day’) shows the mix of cultures. It is sung in Ladino, the language of the Sephardi (a mix of Spanish and Hebrew), but depicts Moorish youths celebrating with a joust on a Christian feast day. Some of the competitors display their lover’s emblem on their pennant, but others, who have no lover, do not. Meanwhile, two girls, once friends, are now split by jealousy.

Yemei Horpi (‘Days of my winter’), is sung at the end of life with a Hebrew text written by Rabbi Israel N’Gara (1555–1628), a 16th-century cleric living in Gaza, just as it came under Ottoman rule. The lyric is a nostalgic litany of aspects of youth, magically sung by d’Or in a three-voice multitrack. The beautiful melody is a traditional tune from Bosnia, here arranged by Israeli composer and performer Shem Tov Levi who performed with the rock band Ktzat Acheret in the 1970s.

Ladino is the language of the home, of nursery rhymes and lullabies like A la nana y al la buba (‘The lullaby and the grandmother’) which is a gentle plea for protection against evil sung by a grandmother left in charge of a baby. Family events define a community. A cradle song in Catalan is Mareta, mareta no’m faces plorar (‘Mummy, dear mummy, don’t make me cry’), written around 1700. The song is a brief dialogue between a child and her mother, the former asking to be bought a doll, the latter ignoring the request. Finally, the third of three lullabies and the closing track of the album is Nana (‘Lullaby’), one of the Siete canciones populares españolas (‘Seven Spanish Folk Songs’) composed by the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla in 1914. Civil war in his country forced him abroad and he died in exile in Argentina. The seven songs are dances from different cultures around Spain. Nana which soothes and rocks, evokes in its sad, modal tune, the cultures and communities of an ancient wandering heritage.

Richard Jones

Yaniv d’Or and Ensemble NAYA would like to thank all those who supported, advised, believed in and sponsored this project,
and allowed us to bring this music closer to our loyal listeners:

Manuel Mohino, Rick Jones, Yoni Levy,
Mr Werner Kleine – Katholische Citykirche Wuppertal, Nico Trappmann,
Les Glycines (André and Virginie), Côté jardin, Alex Morrison (Signal Tours),
Chris Harris, David Pollard, Daniel Barrow, Aviv Fattal and Pretzel d’Or-Fattal.

Special thanks to Jana Turek for the love, help and unconditional support.

Sparkasse Wuppertal, Isabel Allaert, the Israel Culture Ministry,
Stadt Wuppertal, Liora Ofer, Joris Brantegem, Pat Annicq, John Copley OBE


In memory of Joseph (Yossi) Levi

Yaniv d’Or

Yaniv d’Or’s unique countertenor voice has made him one of the rising stars of the modern international music scene. The British-Israeli d’Or studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, receiving the International Vocal Art Institution Prize and the Gottesman Award. His operatic repertoire includes Handel’s Giulio Cesare (Tolomeo), Rinaldo (Rinaldo), Susannah (Joacim) and Xerxes (Arsamene), Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (Orfeo), Haydn’s Orlando paladino (Medoro) Cavalli’s Giasone (Delfa) and Orion (Orion), Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (Sorcerer and Spirit), Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Oberon) and Death in Venice (Voice of Apollo), Vivaldi’s La verità in cimento (Melindo) and, most recently, Salamone Rossi in The Siblings of Mantua, a unique production by the Drottningholm Slottsteater Stockholm featuring music by Salamone Rossi, Claudio Monteverdi, traditional sephardi ladino and d’Or’s own compositions. In concert he performs Lieder, oratorios and traditional repertoire at venues such as the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, Wigmore Hall, the Barbican Centre, the Royal Festival Hall and the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, York Minster Cathedral, Oslo Opera House, AMUZ Antwerp, the Palau de la Música Barcelona, the Dôme des Invalides and the Philharmonie de Paris. He recently performed a new piece at the Banqueting House, London, in the presence of HM Queen Elizabeth II. A prolific recording artist, Yaniv d’Or is the recipient of the Gramophone Award for his album Liquefacta Est... with Ensemble NAYA and BBC Magazine’s Album Choice for Latino Ladino (Naxos 8.573566).

Ensemble NAYA

Ensemble NAYA is a collection of outstanding musicians from multicultural backgrounds, who share their passion for exploring and performing Western classical music, as well as the music of many other cultures from around the world. The group was established following an exciting and successful musical partnership at the Gothenburg Opera in Sweden in 2008. The eight musicians of Ensemble NAYA dedicate themselves to creating bridges between different cultures and to bringing people together, regardless of their faith or religion. Ensemble NAYA is already forging exciting collaborations with some of today’s leading music specialists, such as Ensemble Barrocade, whose collaboration resulted in their joint album Latino Ladino. The album rapidly became a bestseller and garnered several awards resulting in further invitations for the ensemble to perform together on major international stages.