Review Archive

'Juego de Siempre' from Anna Hoffman & Romancero Sefardi

(November 27, 2013)

Another album from our friends at the Russian folk music label Sketis Music, this time it’s Anna Hoffman & Romancero Sefardi’s hauntingly evocative ‘Juego de Siempre’. This is complex and enveloping music that encapsulates the enigmatic, sometimes mournful, enduring culture of Anna HoffmanSephardic Jews.

These ancient musical themes descend primarily from the Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain in 1492, who carried their culture intact across Europe and the east to territories of the Ottoman Empire, Baghdad, Damascus and Alexandria, Morocco and Algeria. They also migrated their music to Italy, theNetherlandsTunisia, Northern Germany, Belarus and Southern Russia. And in all those places their culture thrived as their music reflected their hardship, travels, experiences and resilience.

The melodies in ‘Juego de Siempre’ encapsulate and intertwine the language of the songs, which is Ladino (or dzhudezmo), a medieval Spanish dialect. These are songs of history, romance, spirit and ceremony. With roots in the Sephardic heritage, Anna and Romancero explore ancient tunes with both traditional instruments such as oud, kalimba and saz; yet remain equally happy to include electric guitar, trumpet and saxophone. From the gentle vocals ofYa Salió de la Mar la Galana’ through the expansive interpretation of ‘Una Muchacha en Selanica’ and sinuous ‘Morena me Llaman’ to the sumptuous ‘Los Vestidos de los Novios’ this is profoundly moving music.

Along with Anna Hoffman (vocal) across various tracks on ‘Juego de Siempre’ are Gennady Lavrentiev (electric guitar, fretless guitar, violin, kalimba, tabla, cajon, palmas, oud, saz, vocal) Dmitry Ignatov (bouzouki, oud, vocal) Oleg Mariakhin (soprano saxophone, trumpet) Kirill Parenchuk (soprano saxophone, cajon, tabla, tabla tarang) Marian “Mario” Kaldararu (toba, cajon) Andrey Demidenko (santur, bansur, diaff, vocal) Kirill Osherov (tonbak, cymbal) and Andrey Tanzu (riqq, udu).

Reviewer: Dan Holland

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