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How To Fall In Love With Ayelet Rose Gottlieb (All Over Again)!

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Photograph by Gem Salsberg

Listen to not one, but two of Ayelet Rose Gottlieb’s recordings; one featuring her own compositions. There is a swirling wind of mysticism that fills the air. The mystery and majesty of it surrounds me. What catches me by surprise though, are the vocalastic leaps and dives that soar and plunge as you become mesmerised not only by the Zen-like ululations of the music but more so by the whimsy and fervour with which the music transforms you with its dramatic shifts in mood, the elegant entwining of melody and rhythm, the beauty of musical direction and the sense of pacing as a whole. I am hard-pressed to find words to describe work like this… it seems to mark the furthest limits yet attained by human art and imagination. This is how the warmly voluptuous sound of Ayelet Rose Gottleib’s music will affect you.

Gottlieb is an extraordinary woman. She seems to me made completely of music; that and she has a voice of an angel. Her music demands operatic glamour. With her diamantine tone, dramatic flair and free-soaring top notes, Ayelet Rose Gottlieb provides it in spades. Her magnificent music is refracted through a prism and what you get are the purest of primary colours. She has a natural gift for melodic gracefulness. She brings all of this to bear on two of the most wonderful recitals – Shiv’a and Gomory – Book of Angels – Volume 25, a John Zorn project. The former features extraordinary music composed and performed by Gottlieb with a quartet. And the latter abounds in novel textures, evocative word setting and audacious four-part harmonies shared by Gottlieb with Sofia Rei, Sara Serpa and Malika Zarra, together called Mycale.

A born stage animal and story-teller, Gottlieb is equally in her element in the a cappella group Mycale, as in the more flamboyant setting of her dramatic extended work, Shiv’a. She times and colours her work to perfection: in the thunderous majesty of Shiv’a where she appears with melancholy mystery towards the end of the piece and in Gomory where she veils her naturally bright timbre and the swagger of joyful hymnic melody in the long dream-like indolence of the music. Here, of course, Zorn’s music is voiced by three other wonderful musicians as well – Rei, Serpa and Zarra – the voices of each underpinned with Zorn’s gossamer semiquavers; the beating of angels’ wings upon which each vocalist displays an acute awareness of harmonic colour. Each of these two recordings is special in its own way:

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