القدس  ·  Jerusalem  ·  ירושלים  /  Pera Ensemble, Mehmet C. Yeşilçay

The city of pilgrimage for Jews, Christians and Muslims

GCD 923515



1. אדֲוןֹ הסַלְּיִחותֹ · Adon Haslihot   [2:29]   Anonymous • MEK

2. Palästinalied   [3:24]   Walter von der VOGELWIDE (1170-1230) • instrumental

3. Morenica [5:34]   Anonymous • MEK

ALFONSO X el SABIO (1221-1284)
4. Des oge mais [2:20]   CSM  1  •  ISE
5. Por nos de dulta tirar [3:50]   CSM  18  •  FLM, FM

6. Anonymous   [3:03]
surah as-Saff 61:13 سورة الصف  •  ISE
Neva Çeng-i Harbi  •  instrumental

7. יאורו ליבי ye’oru libbi / Nühüft Yürük Semai   [5:33]   Yeuda & Ebu BEKIR AĞA  •  ISE

8. Stabat Mater   [6:59]   Giovanni Felice SANCES (1600-1679) • FLM

9. Gagliarda norsina   [1:57]   Salomone ROSSI (1570-1630)instrumental

10. Dirindin, from Il Sant’Alessio   [2:08]   Stefano LANDI (1587-1639) • FLM, FM

Carlo PALLAVICINO (1630-1688), from Gerusalemme liberata
11. Sinfonia*   [2:44]   instrumental
12. In amor*   [4:27]   FLM

13. Beltà*, from Il Giustino   [1:44]   Giovanni LEGRENZI (1626-1690) • FM

14. Ahi! Come quella, from Sedecia   [6:10]   Antonio CALDARA (1670-1736) • FM

15. Maoz-Tzur   [0:46]   Anonymous • MEK

16. Della vita   [1:18]   Benedetto MARCELLO (1686-1739) • FM

17. Gazel (vocal improvisation)   [6:51]   Anonymous • ISE

18. Scherzano, from Rinaldo   [3:15]   Georg Friedrich HÄNDEL (1685-1759) • FLM, FM

19. Halleluya avdei adonai   [2:41]   Anonymous • MEK

* World premiere recordings | All arrangements by Mehmet C. Yeşilçay

Pera Ensemble
Mehmet C. Yeşilçay

Michal Elia Kamal — hebrew chant (Jerusalem) • MEK
Ibrahim Suat Erbay — sufi chant (Istanbul) • ISE
Francesca Lombardi Mazzulli — soprano (Milan) • FLM
Filippo Mineccia — countertenor (Florence) • FM

Mehmet C. Yeşilçay — oud, medieval lute & colascione
Massimiliano Toni — harpsichord
Serkan Mesut Halili — kanun
Volkan Yilmaz — ney
Derya Türkan — kemençe
Dmitry Lepekhov — Margherita Pupulin, violins
Maria Pache — viola
Elisabeth Ragaller — nyckelharpa
Felix Stross — cello
Rüdiger Kurz — double bass
Daniel Zapico — theorbo & baroque guitar
Ozan Pars, Joss Turnbull — percussion

Recorded at Stadthalle Heidelberg (Germany) on 30 & 31 March 2017
Recording producer: Michael Sandner (SWR)
Recording engineer: Robert Müller (SWR)
Editing: Michael Sandner, Boris Kellenbenz (SWR)

Executive producers: Dr. Michael Gassmann (Heidelberger Frühling),
Dr. Kerstin Unseld (SWR), Michael Sawall (note 1)

Translations: Susanne Lowien (DEU, sung texts), Jason Ortmann (EnG, essay),
Andrea Friggi (EnG, sung texts), Sylvie Coquillat (FRA)

Design: Mónica Parra
Photos: Shutterstock (digipack), Heidelberger Frühling/studio visuell (booklet)
Co-production Heidelberger Frühling with Südwestrundfunk SWR

℗ © 2018 note 1 music gmbh

Special thanks to Dr. Thomas Bimmler and Dr. Michael Gassmann
In memoriam Prof. Şehvar Beşiroğlu


Many cultures have met here since ancient times; the Holy City for Jews, Christians and Muslims, founded by the Prophet David. The three monotheistic religions, which can be traced back to the common prophet Abraham, have been at war here, but have also often lived together in peace. The first temple of David’s son Salomon, built around 960 BC, was then destroyed by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. After the conquest of the city, the Persian king Kyros allowed the rebuilding of the temple and the city until the sanctuary was destroyed by the Roman emperor Titus in 70 AD. This was followed by Roman rule for 600 years. A new religion is born from Judaism, the prophesied Messiah Jesus gathers his disciples around him. The birth of Christianity is linked to the story of the prophet Jesus, his ordeal, the crucifixion. Jesus drives the moneychangers out of the temple, the Lord’s Supper takes place in Jerusalem, as well as the crucifixion and the tomb of Jesus are in the city of Jerusalem. Christians believe that, three days later, Jesus rose again and appeared to his disciples. His tomb as a place of crucifixion. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Basilica) was commissioned by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine about 300 years after Jesus’ crucifixion. Later, the church was protected by the Ottomans, who settled the disputes between the Christian denominations and divided the church between the parties. The Muslim family Joudeh has been preserving the key to the church of the Holy Sepulchre for about 800 years to prevent disputes among Christians. It is reported that Sultan Saladin’s (1137-1193) methods were introduced here. In 637, the city was besieged by the Arabs and then ruled by Umayyads, Abbasids, Fatimids and the Turkish Seljuks.

In 1095 the Pope Urban II (1035-1099) announces the First Crusade and Jerusalem is conquered by the Crusaders in 1098. The motto of the Crusades is Deus lo vult, “God wants it”. Ecclesiastics, knights, adventurers, criminals and peasants went to war against the Gentiles for the remission of sins. A bloody conquest ensued, in which all non-Christians were murdered in the city. It is reported that in Maara, Syria, the lower classes themselves did not shy away from cannibalism because of food shortages and hunger in the Christian army. Albert von Aachen, a contemporary chronicler, writes: “Ours not only did not shy away from eating killed Turks and Saracens, but they also ate dogs.” These brutal events left a traumatic impression on the inhabitants of the Middle East, the Jews, Muslims and even the Oriental Christians, who were not exactly treated as brothers of faith. Further crusades followed.

Many epics, songs and legends about glorious knights such as Tankred, Gottfried von Bouillion, the Protector of the Holy Sepulchre were composed. The Gerusalemme Liberata by Torquato Tasso (1544-1595) tells heroic knightly stories from a Christian point of view about the Crusades, which served as a model for many baroque operas (e.g. Handel’s Rinaldo or Gluck’s Armida).

Saladin Eyyubi (1137-1193) conquered the city with his army in 1187 and became a mythical figure among Muslims. After the conquest of the city and subsequent wars against Richard Lionheart, the visit of Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem was guaranteed by Saladin as part of the ceasefire. For Muslims, Jerusalem is the third most important holy city after Mecca and Medina. The Muslims prayed towards Jerusalem in the early years, which was later changed by a Koran revelation towards Mecca. Miraj, the nocturnal ascension of the Prophet Muhammad, accompanied by the Archangel Gabriel, where he ascended to heaven from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where he met the Jewish prophet and Jesus. The Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, the most famous and oldest monumental sacral building, stands on the Temple Mount and was built around 690 AD. It is now thought that Dante Alighieri, in his Divine Comedy, drew a picture of the world that comes close to the ascension of the Prophet Muhammad. Most likely, Dante had read Latin translations of works by Islamic mystics, such as Ibn Arabi, about the ascension. new findings also show that Goethe refers to the Ascension in the second part of his tragedy Faust. Goethe studied Islam throughout his life and it became evident that he referred to fundamental positions of Islam in his works.

With the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottomans became the focus of world history. Expansion efforts to the west to Vienna would later bring not only the “Turkish fear” but also the “Alla Turca”, the Turkish fashion, to Europe. The empire of the ruler over the believers extends over three continents. Thus in 1516, under Sultan Selim I, Jerusalem was also conquered. In 1917, during the First World War, the mayor handed the city over to the British without a fight to prevent the destruction of the historical sites. Four hundred years of Ottoman rule represented a great influence of Ottoman culture in this part of the world.

In 1493, the Ottomans under Bajazet II – there is even an opera by Vivaldi entitled Bajazet – welcomed the Sephardic Jews expelled by King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I from Spain into their empire. The Sultan had a decree published in which the Jews were welcomed throughout the empire, and so many persecuted Jews could emigrate from Europe to the Ottoman Empire. Istanbul, the capital of the empire, has been a cosmopolitan city since the Byzantines, where many cultures and religions met and lived.

Among Ottoman leaders, the vezirs, were also many Christians and Jews, such as Gazanfer Aga (a Venetian) who ascended from court page to closest adviser and friend of Sultan Selim, and Kiliç Ali, a Calabrian who was Admiral of the Sultan at the time of Süleyman the Magnificent (1494-1566) and ruled over the waters of the Mediterranean.

* * *

So what does Jerusalem mean to us Christians, Jews and Muslims? We cannot answer this question so simply, especially in light of the fact that political conditions and developments are making it more and more difficult for us to find a peaceful solution around the status of Jerusalem. What remains clear however is that for several centuries the three world religions have been living closely together, enjoying the same cuisine and connecting through music. Although inter-religious dialogue is a modern term, it is lived in Jerusalem. A melting pot of cultures and religions, the city of peace despite the crises and conflicts in the Middle East. We must build bridges to overcome the supposed opposites. Two things make conversation easier: food and music.

Just as Oriental cuisine draws on many spices and exotic ingredients, the Pera Ensemble tries to incorporate various ingredients and stylistic devices into its programme and concerts – Jewish piyutim, oriental sounds in the baroque sound image, music from medieval Spain, baroque music, Jewish and oriental music, turqueries. We research and excavate lost works from libraries, transcribed and edited from manuscripts and other written sources. Forgotten works, such as Pallavicino’s Gerusalemme liberata, were discovered by us and recorded here as a world premiere. In times when religion is exploited for political purposes and when religious fanaticism serves to divide societies, it is particularly important not to leave the field to those who try to divide and provoke. The majority are the others! – those who stand for peaceful and harmonious coexistence. Judaism, Christianity, Islam: A common basis. Their common prophet David is a central focus and bridge between the spiritual traditions. The combination of the different religious soundscapes leads to a surprising and extraordinary musical event.

The tenor: the common metaphysical experience. The focus for the different musical directions is always the same: a musical credo – without borders and confessions.

Shalom, Pax, Selam.

Mehmet C. Yeşilçay

Comments on the pieces

Anonymous. Adon Haslihot  אדֲוןֹ הסַלְּיִחותֹ
A prayer recited during Yom Kippur.

Walter von der Vogelweide. Palästinalied
Walter von der Vogelweide is regarded as the most important poet of the Middle Ages. The first crusade (1096-1099), proclaimed by Pope Urban II with the words Deus lo vult (God wants it), was followed by six others. During Walter’s lifetime, the crusades were immediately taking place (Fourth Crusade 1202, Constantinople, Jerusalem). This is an instrumental version.

Anonymous. Morenica
In 1494, the Moors and the Sephardic Jews were expelled from Spain and Portugal. The Reconquista and the Inquisition began. With a decree from the Sultan Bajazet II (1448-1512), the Ottoman Empire welcomed the homeless Jews, who brought their medieval songs in Ladino into the Muslim empire and to Jerusalem. The largest Sephardic community in the Ottoman Empire was in Thessaloniki, then referred to as the Balkan Jerusalem.

4 | 5
Alfonso X el Sabio. Des oge mais | Por nos de dulta tirar
Alfonso X el Sabio (1221-1284) (the Wise) was king of Castile and León and counter-king of the Holy Roman Empire. The Cantigas de Santa María (CSM) were collected in his name over the course of the 13th century, and today they are one of the largest collections of songs of praise of the Virgin Mary of the Middle Ages. The Cantigas also stand for the golden age in Spain, where Christians, Muslims and Jews in the Al Andalus of the Moors from 711 to 1492 represented a light in the darkness of the Middle Ages: a heyday of science, culture and art, tolerance and dialogue between the religions.

Anonymous. Surah as-Saff 61:13 | Neva Çeng-i Harbi
Attack march of the Sultan’s elite troops, the Janissaries, in the 16th century. The music of the Janissaries was imitated in many marches from the Baroque to Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven. This piece is from the collection of the Polish Wojciech Bobowski (1610-1675). Abducted from his homeland by invading Tatars, he was sold as a slave at the High Gate in Istanbul. There he worked as a musician, interpreter and later, after his dismissal as a slave, also as a consultant for European diplomats, for whom he, as a facilitator of the Ottoman culture, contributed to better understanding. He also educated Europeans in oriental languages. His most important language students include Antoine Galland (1646-1715), who first translated the Thousand and One nights into a European language, and the diplomat and orientalist François Mesgnien (Meninski). He converted to Islam and henceforth called himself Ali Ufkî. With his collection of compositions from his time and his own works, he found his place in the hearts of lovers of Turkish music.

Yeuda & Ebu Bekir Aga.
Ye’oru libbi / Nühüft Yürük Semai
The Sephardic Jews in Istanbul adopted courtly Turkish music and added Hebrew texts, which were then sung in the synagogues. Here is a mix of the Hebrew copy with the original by Ebu Bekir Aga, a 17th-century composer. nühüft is the name for the Maqam mode. From 1516 until the First World War, Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire. Even today, Oriental music is still an important part of Jerusalem’s culture. not only the music, but also the Mediterranean oriental cuisine is a beautiful example of Levantine culture. Jerusalem, Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad and Istanbul were virtually indistinguishable from each other in cultural terms.

Giovanni Felice Sances. Stabat Mater
The Stabat Mater is a medieval poem that tells the story of Mary Mother of Jesus. It served as a model for many composers like Scarlatti and Pergolesi. In between, you can hear an improvisation of the ney pipe flute. This bamboo flute is the most important instrument in sacred Islamic music, the Sufi music. It embodies the soul of man and the separation from the Creator. Mother Mary has a special place in the Quran (the Surah 21 bears her name) “O Mary, behold, God has chosen and purified you and chosen you before the women of the worlds.” (Surah 3:42)

Salomone Rossi. Gagliarda norsina
Rossi came from a Jewish family in Mantua and was a close friend of Claudio Monteverdi. He was the first to compose sacred music in Hebrew for the synagogue. numerous instrumental works were published during his lifetime. He was probably assassinated during anti-Semitic riots in the Mantua ghetto. This piece is an example of Jewish life in Italy, where music and art flourished in the early Baroque period.

Stefano Landi. Dirindin (from: Il Sant’Alessio)
Landis’ career begins in childhood as a boy soprano in Rome. The cheerful folkloric song Dirindin comes from the opera Il Sant’Alessio. This opera is about a historical theme from the 5th century: The holy Sant’ Alessio returns to Rome from the Holy Land and leads the life of a beggar. This role was sung by the castrato Marco Pasqualini at the premiere in 1631.

11 | 12
Carlo Pallavicino (from: Gerusalemme liberata). Sinfonia | In amor
Gerusalemme liberata (The Liberated Jerusalem) by Torquato Tasso (1544-1595) is a glorified representation of the First Crusade and served as a model for numerous operas (including Handel’s Rinaldo). In the aria, the sorceress Armida attempts to use magic to lead astray the knight Rinaldo, whom she loves.

Giovanni Legrenzi. Beltà (from: Il Giustino)
Il Giustino (Venice, 1683) is Giovanni Legrenzi’s most successful opera. The pseudo-historical drama takes place in the imperial palace in Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, and was also set to music by Vivaldi, among others.

Antonio Caldara. Ahi! Come quella (from: Sedecia)
Antonio Caldara’s oratorio Sedecia Re di Gerusalemme (Sedecia, King of Jerusalem) deals with the Old Testament material about Sedecia, who is blinded by the Babylonian ruler nebuchadnezzar. Originally composed for salterio (dulcimer) and voice, this performance features a qanun, a type of oriental boxed zither.

Anonymous. Maoz-Tzur
Maoz-Tzur is a medieval folk song from the German Jews who brought this song to Italy.

Benedetto Marcello. Della vita
Benedetto Marcello used the melody of the song Maoz-Tzur as a model for his aria Della vita. Marcello included this piece in Hebrew script as Intonazione degli Ebrei Tedesci sopra in his collection of psalms Estro poetico-armonico.

Anonymous. Gazel (vocal improvisation)
The improvisation of vocals and instruments is an essential part of Ottoman music. Here, you can hear a symbiosis that would certainly have pleased Ali Ufkî: vocal improvisations set to a bass line from Monteverdi’s Lamento della Ninfa.

Georg Friedrich Händel. Scherzano (from: Rinaldo)
Another crusade theme, whose libretto was written
by Giacomo Rossi.

Anonymous. Halleluya avdei adonai
In conclusion, a Jewish Yemeni Haleluya.