By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
As dense as it is with explications of Jewish liturgy and a detailed account of the political environment of Nazi Germany, the Beyond Recall book makes for compelling reading. Every recording and every artist has a story. To take one that ends happily: In 1939, Hirsch Lewin was thrown a lifeline by a New Haven congregation but arrested by the Gestapo before he could clear his emigration papers. Sent to a concentration camp but then shipped to Vienna, he managed to board an illegal transport to Palestine. The leaky boat sank; its survivors were marooned on an Aegean island, discovered by an Italian sub, and interned on Rhodes. His wife, meanwhile, went underground in Berlin, eluded deportation to Poland, and smuggled herself into Italy, where she and Lewin hid out for the rest of the war until they finally made it to Tel Aviv, where they revived Semer under the rubric Kol Zion (Voice of Zion).
Palestine is a constant presence on Beyond Recall. The set's 12th disc is a DVD of Hebrew Melody, a long-lost nine-minute movie commissioned by the Kulturbund in 1935. Violinist Andreas Weissberger climbs from a car in the labyrinth of old Jerusalem, heads through the narrow streets beyond the city walls, and up into the ruin-studded hills. He opens his case, lifts out the violin, and begins ecstatically to play. Perhaps nowhere more than in Berlin 1935 would this moonscape seem like the promised land.
Bear Family, www.bear-family.de