The psalms of the Jews from Constantine

From the collection MUSICAL HERITAGE OF THE JEWS FROM FRANCE, VOL. 11


Built on the rocky plateau of Eastern Algeria, and considered to be one of the oldest cities in the world, Constantine homed during centuries an important Jewish community. According to the tradition, the town had 26 synagogues from which could be heard the prayers in a style inspired from Andalusian music. In Constantine, the recitation of the psalms was a unique art in which each singer, respecting the biblical text and the arab-andalusian modes, competed in its delicate improvisation in order to move the hearts of the greatest number of worshippers.

In this 11th volume from the collection Patrimoines musicaux des Juifs de France produced by the Foundation for French Judaism, the Great Rabbi René Guedj, André Taïeb, Yohan Bismuth and Ylane Zerbib present to us a selection of these psalms in the Constantine tradition. Concerned by playing them in their original form and with its original spirit, they give us an interpretation without any instrumental accompaniment. Their style evoking sometimes the flamenco voices makes us recall in an astonishing way the vocal tradition of the Arab courts in medieval Spain.

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