Ernest Bloch, BLOCH: America / Suite hebraique

Gavin Borchert

By Gavin Borchert

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
An émigré pays tribute to his new home.

Born in Switzerland, Bloch relocated to America in 1916, at 36, beginning a long career as a teacher in New York City, Cleveland, San Francisco and Berkeley (he died in Portland, Oregon). He's best remembered for works evoking his Jewish roots, like the Suite hebraique on this recording, or his Schelomo for cello and orchestra, but he also paid tribute to his adopted land in America, a three-movement choral symphony that reflects the country's melting-pot history by quoting all sorts of styles (and melodies outright) from Native American folksongs to shanties and spirituals, with more than a hint of Tin Pan Alley in the opening of the brash, driving finale.