Edna Michell

Yehudi Menuhin

+ Friends Around the World


Innova 971

2CD set: Tracks from Disc A are available digitally under the original release title: Compassion: Journey of the Spirit (EMI/Angel)


At the invitation of Edna Michell and Yehudi Menuhin,

composers and performers from around the world dedicated their artistry

to the theme of universal compassion through music.

Here is their tribute.


Disc A (79:13)


1.         John Tavener Song of the Angel 4:37

2.         Shulamit Ran Yearning 8:08

3.         Chen Yi Romance of Hsiao and Ch’in 3:59

4.         Hans Werner Henze Adagio adagio 3:28

5.         Yinam Leef T’Filah 5:44

6.         Poul Ruders Credo 5:38

7.         Somei Satoh Innocence 7:19

8.         Wolfgang Rihm Cantilena 3:48

9.         lannis Xenakis Hunem-lduhey 3:02

10.       Lukas Foss Romance 5:55

11.       Karel Husa Stèle 6:14

12.       Betty Olivero Achòt Ketana 6:21

13.       György Kurtág Ligatura 2:55

14.       Philip Glass Echorus 7:28

15.       Steve Reich Duet 4:38


Disc B (63:20)


1.            Kaija Saariaho Changing Light 5:17


Three Frescoes from the Old Testament:

2.         Petr Eben Saul at the Prophetess in En Dor 7:03

3.         Oldrich F. Korte Elihu Versus Job 6:36

4.         Viktor Kalabis Hallelujah 6:18


5.         Luciano Berio Glossa 1:52

6.         Boris Tishchenko Wild Honey Smells of Freedom 3:33

7.         Sean Hickey Lunula 2:58

8.         Josef Tal Piano Quartet 10:37

9.         Gennady Banshchikov Elegy 6:24

10.       Lukas Foss Round a Common Center* 12:39

                        *Written for the opening of the 1980 Winter Olympics


Disc A


1.  John Tavener: Song of the Angel for Violin, Soprano and String Orchestra

Ulf Hoelscher, violin

Susan Narucki, soprano

Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra

Lukas Foss, conductor


2.  Shulamit Ran: Yearning for Violin and String Orchestra

Edna Michell, violin

with Michal Kaňka, cello

Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra

Lukas Foss, conductor


3.  Chen Yi: Romance of Hsiao and Ch'in for Violin and String Orchestra

Ulf Hoelscher and Nachum Erlich, violins

Karlsruhe Ensemble

Andreas Weiss, conductor


4.  Hans Werner Henze: Adagio adagio: Serenade for Piano Trio

Edna Michell, violin; Michal Kaňka, cello; Igor Ardašev, piano


5.  Yinam Leef: T'Filah for 3 Violins

Edna Michell, Ulf Hoelscher, Nachum Erlich, violins


6.  Poul Ruders: Credo for 2 Violins, Clarinet and String Orchestra

Shlomo Mintz, Ulf Hoelscher, violins

Ludmila Peterková, clarinet

Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra

Lukas Foss, conductor


7.  Somei Satoh: Innocence for Violin, Soprano and 6 Cellos

Edna Michell, violin

Patricia Rozario, soprano

Cellos of the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra

Lukas Foss, conductor


8.  Wolfgang Rihm: Cantilena for Solo Violin

Edna Michell, violin


9. lannis Xenakis: Hunem-lduhey for Violin and Cello

Edna Michell, violin

Michal Kaňka, cello


1O. Lukas Foss: Romance for Violin, Soprano and String Orchestra

Edna Michell, violin

Patricia Rozario, soprano

Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra

Lukas Foss, conductor


11. Karel Husa: Stèle for Solo Violin

Edna Michell, violin


12. Betty Olivero: Achòt Ketana for 3 Solo Violins, Soprano and String Orchestra with Clarinet

Edna Michell, Ulf Hoelscher, Bohuslav Matoušek, violins

Patricia Rozario, soprano

Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra

Lukas Foss, conductor


13. György Kurtág: Ligatura for 2 Violins         

Edna Michell, Ulf Hoelscher, violins


14. Philip Glass: Echorus for 2 Violins and String Orchestra with Narration by Allen Ginsberg

Edna Michell, Ulf Hoelscher, violins

Allen Ginsberg, narrator

Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra

Lukas Foss, conductor


15. Steve Reich: Duet for 2 Violins and String Orchestra      

Edna Michell, Ulf Hoelscher, violins

Karlsruhe Ensemble

Andreas Weiss, conductor



1. Kaija Saariaho: Changing Light for Soprano and Violin

Luyba Petrova, soprano

Edna Michell, violin


Three Frescoes from the Old Testament: Suite for Violin and Piano

2. Petr Eben: Saul at the Prophetess in En Dor

3. Oldrich F. Korte: Elihu Versus Job

4. Viktor Kalabis: Hallelujah

Edna Michell, violin

Frank Glazer, piano


5. Luciano Berio: Glossa for Clarinet and Viola

David Shifrin, clarinet

Ettore Causa, viola


6. Boris Tishchenko: Wild Honey Smells of Freedom for Soprano, Violin and Cello

Luyba Petrova, soprano

Edna Michell, violin

Ole Akahoshi, cello


7. Sean Hickey: Lunula for Flute and English Horn

Tara Helen O'Connor, Flute

Claire Brazeau, English Horn


8. Josef Tal: Piano Quartet

Cantilena Piano Quartet: Edna Michell, violin; Philipp Naegele, viola; Steven Thomas, cello; Frank Glazer, piano


9. Gennady Banshchikov: Elegy for Violin and Cello

Edna Michell, violin

Ole Akahoshi, cello


10. Lukas Foss: Round a Common Center for Piano Quintet, Mezzo-Soprano and Narration

Yehudi Menuhin, violin

Cantilena Piano Quartet

Elaine Bonazzi, mezzo-soprano

Orson Welles, narrator


Reminiscences by Edna Michell


In 1993, following recording sessions in the Czech Republic, Yehudi Menuhin and I were on the way to Vienna to catch flights to different destinations. Menuhin was despairing about the atrocities of the world. To change the mood, I came up with the idea of composers from around the world writing short works inspired by the theme of compassion. It struck a chord with Menuhin, and he remained immersed in the project for the rest of his life.


Menuhin and I were involved in many projects together over many years, but his focus on this one was astonishing. I was amazed to see Menuhin's enthusiasm, involvement, excitement, dedication, and commitment expressed in the many handwritten faxes and letters he sent to people around the world. Menuhin would call me from wherever he was in the world at 3 AM New York time and would exclaim, “I just had an idea and wanted to tell you about it...” The more the project developed, the more he wanted to carry on with it. His fervor to see this project fulfilled was inspirational.


Whenever Menuhin and I received a new score from a composer, we would immediately analyze it. Menuhin's curiosity, focus, and concentration were extraordinary. Compassion was another dimension of Menuhin's humanism. He believed that all the Compassion compositions should be performed together to make a strong musical statement about embracing its global message.


In a world of growing divisiveness, the togetherness represented by this Compassion project continues to resonate. New compositions continue to be written as the theme of Compassion echoes through Menuhin’s centenary and beyond.


The Compassion Project


Distinguished composers from many nations wrote compositions based on the humanistic theme — universal compassion through music. Twenty-four are recorded here: Lukas Foss, Philip Glass, Sean Hickey, Steve Reich (USA); John Tavener (UK); Luciano Berio (Italy); Chen Yi (China); Somei Satoh (Japan); Hans Werner Henze, Wolfgang Rihm (Germany); Gennady Banshchikov, Boris Tishchenko (Russia); Poul Ruders (Denmark); Kaija Saariaho (Finland); Petr Eben, Viktor Kalabis, Oldrich F. Korte (Czech Republic); Karel Husa (Czech-USA); Shulamit Ran (Israel-USA); Yinam Leef, Betty Olivero, Josef Tal (lsrael); lannis Xenakis (Greece-France); and György Kurtág (Hungary).


These works are part of The Compassion Project, developed by violinist Edna Michell with her mentor and friend, the violinist and humanist Yehudi Menuhin. These compositions on the theme of human compassion were written and dedicated to Menuhin and Michell. In Yehudi Menuhin's words: "I look to music to bind and heal... l believe as strongly as ever that our finite world turns on finite individual efforts to embody an ideal.” These words reflect the breadth of view and depth of spirit with which he approached everything he did. As Edna Michell expressed: “We are living in times severely deficient in genuine human caring."


Michell and Menuhin wanted variety in the scoring of the works — all reflecting differing styles with a noble theme. The hope is that through this music the listener will be inspired and moved to experience a humanistic connection lacking in today's world.

The Compassion Project was premiered in New York as part of the Lincoln Center Festival, conducted by Yehudi Menuhin with Edna Michell as soloist. Menuhin and Michell performed this program in several countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland. Televised performances of The Compassion Project were presented by the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the Biennale for New Music in Israel, and as a State Department 9/11 Memorial in Helsinki, Finland. The original plan was for Menuhin and Michell to make this recording together but sadly Yehudi passed away.


A CD entitled Compassion: A Journey of the Spirit featured fifteen of the first Compassion compositions and was released by EMI/Angel (now Universal Music Group). Shirley Fleming of Musical America described the music as communicating directly with the listener, through a spacious, meditative, transparent quality, with a sense of timelessness.


The CD was unanimously praised. Edward Greenfield writing in Gramophone said, "it is due to the energy and application of the violinist Edna Michell that this impressive collection of pieces was written by leading composers... with excellent playing from Michell and all the contributors, it is a memorable, very well recorded disc." John Sunier, Audiophile: "All the pieces have a strongly calming and spiritual quality about them and those with lyrics are very moving." Richard Ginnell, Los Angeles Times: "These pieces do fit uncannily well together, with each seemingly growing out of its often unrelated predecessor." Christopher Fifield, MusicWeb International: "Unsurprisingly performances are dominated by the violin playing of Edna Michell with or without her colleagues (and these too are of the highest caliber with the likes of Hoelscher and Mintz among them)."


Now, with a rerelease of the original CD (licensed for inclusion here but available separately as a digital release from Universal Music Group), and the first release of ten more works added since 2001, The Compassion Project is alive and well.


Yehudi Menuhin and Edna Michell:  Friends in Music


I LOOK TO MUSIC TO BIND AND HEAL; I think the musician can be a trusted object offering his fellow men solace but also a reminder of human excellence; I believe as strongly as ever that our finite world turns on finite individual efforts to embody an ideal.


These words are vintage Menuhin, written as he neared his 60th birthday and reflecting the breadth of view and depth of spirit with which he approached everything he did. Few musicians have extended themselves so generously or demanded more of the music they played. Music, to Yehudi Menuhin, was not merely an elevated sensuous experience, it was the search for enlightenment. He instinctively reached for its profoundest meanings at a very early age, and touched its spiritual essence so completely that Albert Einstein, hearing him play a youthful concert in Berlin, was moved to say: “Now I know that God exists.”


The fifteen works on the first disc are a tribute to that spirit, expressed in a variety of styles completely compatible with Menuhin’s own adventurous temperament. The origin of these new compositions is a story in itself.


Yehudi Menuhin first encountered Edna Michell as a prodigious 12-year-old violinist in Israel. She became his protégé and pupil, studying with him when his travels permitted. Their friendship grew, and when they performed together, Michell says, “I was transformed into another sphere.” She remained close to him until his death in 1999, and their individual concert tours or joint appearances often brought them together in various parts of the world.


One night in Prague, after musical collaborations in the Czech Republic, they left a post-concert dinner party quite late — “Yehudi kept looking at his watch” — to be driven to Vienna, where each was to catch an early morning flight to a different destination. “It was 4 a.m.,” she recalls, “and Yehudi started an animated conversation in the car about the conditions in the world, the upheavals in Yugoslavia, the human suffering, the atrocities we all knew of. His talk simply flowed. He had so much to say, and he really wanted to talk about it. Sometime during that conversation I had an idea, and said to him: “Why don’t we approach composers around the world to write pieces inspired by the theme of universal compassion; an antidote to the chaotic times we live in?” He gave me a mischievous look, as he often did, with a sort of twinkle in his eye, and said, “Knowing you as I do, you not only have this idea, you will bring it to fruition!”


“From that moment we were both excited about this plan. Yehudi was 75, and still had so much enthusiasm and curiosity about everything — he was so open to new ideas.  Each time we met, we talked about different ideas and evolved this project.”


True to Menuhin's prediction, Michell pursued the idea born on that dark road to Vienna, and in reflecting on the project today, she muses about her realization that the composers were inspired to write because they all related to Menuhin's multi-rich personality and to what they believed he stood for — universal compassion being one prime and perfect example. “His life’s theme was music for humanity and humanity for music,” she says. “One stimulated the other, and all the composers sensed that.  Each was inspired to write because of Menuhin's humanistic qualities, his humanitarian impulses.”


Edna Michell points out that she wanted as much variety as possible in the scoring of these works, with the violin as the central instrument. Many of the composers call for the solo instrument with string orchestra; several include a soprano voice; one includes a clarinet, one pairs solo violin and cello, one brings three solo violins into play. In their individual program notes, the composers mention such ideals as international understanding, or the power of music to bring spiritual strength, or elements of simplicity and innocence. All reflect different responses to the life and work of a single great man: “Fifteen styles with a noble theme behind them,” as Michell puts it.


Menuhin took great pleasure in this collaborative project, and had plans to record it and to continue performing it with Edna Michell in many parts of the world. She recalls that during a concert when they played these pieces in London, only a month before he died, he turned to her as they walked off stage and said, “Edna, we must record these pieces now!” He believed the works should be performed together in one pro-gram because, as Michell says, “they create a very special ambiance.”


Over the course of their long and close association, Menuhin and Michell collaborated on many projects. When the first collection was assembled they fully expected to expand it and also to continue to develop new and shared aspirations.


“It has been a journey of the spirit,” says Edna Michell today, after performing and recording these pieces. “When I play them I feel as if I were standing at the edge of a lake, looking into clear and calm waters; I see my reflection almost as in a mirror, and I become fully in touch with myself, with a sense of purity, a sort of spiritual experience.”


“I think that the styles of these works have a common denominator; they communicate directly with the listener through a spacious, meditative, transparent quality, with a sense of timelessness. I'm reminded of the famous quote from William Congreve, ‘Music has charms to soothe the savage beast...’ And I hope, through music, the listener will be inspired and moved to experience a humanistic connection which is lacking in today's world.” A sentiment, indeed, worthy of Menuhin himself.


American audiences heard a number of these pieces in New York for the first time at the 80th Birthday Tribute to Yehudi Menuhin given in August 1996 as part of the Lincoln Center Festival, with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, which Menuhin conducted. It was his last concert appearance in the United States.                           

                                                                                                — Shirley Fleming, Editor and Critic, describing the original 2001 release (Disc A)





Song of the Angel (Quietly ecstatic - calm, pure and free)

for Violin, Soprano and String Orchestra




Dedicated to Yehudi Menuhin and Edna Michell.


Song of the Angel is based on the traditional concept of the only word sung by angels “Hallelujah.”  Since angels are sexless, the music was conceived without human emotion. So it is the self rather than myself which sings. In the words of Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy, one of the traditionalist writers on art in the 20th century, “like all the music of the East it should reveal tranquility and eternal, angelic, ecstatic breath which liberates and humanizes.”  — J.T.



Yearning (Misterioso)

for Violin and String Orchestra




Dedicated to Edna Michell.


When violinist Edna Michell first spoke to me about the theme of her project with the late Lord Yehudi Menuhin, I had already begun work on my opera based on S. Ansky’s great early 20th-century play Between Two Worlds (The Dybbuk). Composing a romance-type piece about love, beauty and humanity, as Edna suggested, is a problematic proposition; but I found myself smitten with the idea of trying to create a short piece that would be expressive of the search, the  yearning, longing desire for such elusive qualities.


In The Dybbuk, Khonnon yearns in vain for his beloved, Leya. He dies when it becomes clear that his love is to remain unrequited. Khonnon’s death is only the first step in the journey to fulfill the great longing of the doomed would-be lovers. I used a phrase out of Khonnon’s opening soliloquy as a compositional point of departure, though once I began to write, Yearning took on a life of its own.  — S.R.


The work had its first public performance in New York City in August 1996 as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. It is dedicated to Edna Michell and her dream.



Romance of Hsiao and Ch’in

for Violins and String Orchestra



Dedicated to Yehudi Menuhin and Edna Michell.


Romance is written for western instruments, yet it reproduces the sound and style of hsiao and ch’in traditional Chinese instruments. Hsiao is a vertical bamboo flute which carries lyrical melodies through delicate lines, grace notes and silence. Ch’in is a 2,000-year old Chinese seven-string zither. The ch’in produces various articulations with different fingerings, plucking and vibrators played with both hands. These two instruments are often played together, creating a balance for sonority and timbre. In Romance of Hsiao and Ch’in, the violin solo parts transmit a lyrical sense to express the composer’s love for humanity. The string orchestra parts sound like an enlarged ch’in to symbolize nature.  — C.Y.



Adagio adagio: Serenade for Piano Trio





The Serenade was composed in 1993 for the 80th birthday of an old friend.  It received its first performance that year with Yehudi Menuhin in Germany at Wolfsgarten, Darmstadt. As described by Henze: “The title is not a tempo marking, but rather a piece of colloquial Italian: ‘Slowly, slowly’ appropriate advice for octogenarians with inexhaustible energies.”



T’Filah (Warm, intimate, molto espressivo)

for 3 Violins


Dedicated to Edna Michell.


T’Filah was written in October 1997 at the request of violinist Edna Michell on the occasion of Sir Yehudi Menuhin’s 80th birthday.


T’Filah is the Hebrew word for prayer, that highly personal act articulating a need, a hope, a fear, a request or a vow. It is also both an individual and communal experience, where the congregation encourages individual expression to take place, as in the Jewish Synagogue. Thus each one of the three violins keeps its own personal voice, sometimes while sharing the material with the others, or when allowing one of them to take a leading role, not unlike a Chazan, or even when joining together to form a single gesture.


This short work carries the essence in Leef’s latest works, contrasting canonic and contrapuntal activity under strict harmonic design with a sense of rhythmic flexibility of declamatory nature and an emphasis toward lyricism.



Credo (Appassionato intimo)

for 2 Violins, Clarinet and String Orchestra





The word credo, meaning “I believe,” is known to us all from the third main section of the Latin Mass “Ordinarium Missae.” This piece reflects my belief in the power of the universal language of music to bring not only consolation but also hope and spiritual strength. Credo is my homage to the towering personality and lifelong work of Yehudi Menuhin, master musician and giant in the struggle for international harmony. An homage to the most soaring of minds in the most turbulent of times.  — P.R.




for Violin, Soprano and 6 Cellos




Dedicated to Edna Michell and Yehudi Menuhin.


The work I have used as a text to this piece is a 1,300-year-old poem taken from the Kojiki, Japan’s oldest compilation of mythology and history. This particular poem is the first poem that appears in the book and expresses the ancient god Susano’s joy upon his marriage to the maiden Kushinada. I think it is wonderful that this poem, considered to be the oldest in Japan, is about the love between husband and wife.  When Edna Michell spoke with me about a short piece based on the theme of love and compassion, I was quite fascinated. I have dedicated this piece to Edna Michell and to Yehudi Menuhin on the occasion of his eightieth birthday.  — S.S.



Cantilena (Sehr ruhig)

for Solo Violin


Dedicated to Edna Michell.


At the suggestion of Yehudi Menuhin, Edna Michell invited Wolfgang Rihm to join this project. Cantilena was composed in June 2000. Rihm comments: “It is an introspective piece, with a sense of timelessness, simplicity and innocence…as if one is playing just for oneself in a quiet, calm state of being."


Rihm marked the piece sehr ruhig (very calm). The piece is almost entirely pianissimo, with only poco vibrato moving in and out of molto sul tasto, flautando.



HunemIduhey (Non-vibrato)

for Violin and Cello



Dedicated to Edna Michell and Yehudi Menuhin.


I composed HunemIduhey, a piece for violin and cello in the summer of 1996. In life there are two ways of proceeding: one is to do things and the other is to analyze them. But the best analysis for me is to do things…Therefore it’s a tactic, and that’s why I insist on saying that it’s the “thing,” music itself, which is not hermetic as opposed to an analytical discourse which is hermetic.  — I.X.




for Violin, Soprano and String Orchestra




Dedicated to Edna Michell and Yehudi Menuhin.


I was very happy to join this wonderful project and compose Romance. It is based on a movement from my American Cantata with a setting of Walt Whitman’s poem Love. Romance has a distinct American flavor; in fact, I used an American folk song in the beginning and at the end. This is the third composition I have written for Yehudi Menuhin and Edna Michell. Our fist collaboration was Round a Common Center, which I wrote for their performance at the 1980 Winter Olympics. The second work was Orpheus and Euridice, a concerto for two violins and orchestra which we performed and recorded together. I hope that this third piece is not the last.  — L.F.


Walt Whitman (1819-1892)



Low hangs the moon

It rose late, it is lagging

O, I think it is heavy with love with love.



O, madly the sea pushes upon the land

with love with love.


Blow! Blow up sea winds

along Paumanok’s shore.


I wait till you blow my mate to me

But my mate

No more no more with me

We two together no more.


Never more the reverberations

Never more the cries of unsatisfied love

be absent from me.



Stèle (Liberamente)

for Solo Violin


Dedicated to Edna Michell.


Stèle, an ancient Greek upright stone column, seemed to be an appropriate title for my contribution to the memory of the great violinist and musician, Yehudi Menuhin. I still remember his magnificent performance in Paris in 1947 of Bela Bartók’s Violin Sonata for Solo Violin in the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. For me, it was the revelation of a masterpiece, performed to perfection; an unforgettable moment in my life.  — K.H.



Achòt Ketana (In Memoriam)

for 3 Solo Violins, Soprano and String Orchestra with Clarinet




Dedicated to Edna Michell.


Achòt Ketana is a New Year song written in the 13th century by Avraham Gerondi of the Catalonian town of Herona. The little sister is a symbol of the soul of the world.  — B.O.


Little sister prepares her prayers

and intones her praises

Oh God, we beseech Thee,

heal now her infirmities

May the year and its misfortunes

now cease altogether



LigaturaHommage à Yehudi Menuhin

for 2 Violins



LigaturaHommage à Yehudi Menuhin for two violins was written by György Kurtág in April 1998 in Amsterdam on the occasion of the great violinist’s 80th birthday. Kurtág has commented to Luigi Nono that his artistic goal was to say as much as possible with as few notes as possible.


In Ligatura, every note and expressive nuance – as in the works of Webern – has an immense weight. In Webern’s music this is achieved by density of construction. The brevity of Kurtág’s music flows from the enormous intensity of its musical gestures which are replenished with musical tradition. The fourths in the beginning of Ligatura to be played tenuto, display a Hungarian folk music quality, as in Bartók. The opening funeral character is followed by the effect of distant echoes, melodic fragments to be played expressivo, più sonore and cantabile followed by chords in ppp, which are to sound mysterioso followed by ppppp.  These expressions create a magical aura, a spiritual world in which musical tradition lies enshrined in fragments like the ruins of a huge cathedral.  Could one possibly imagine a more deeply moving and endearing message for Yehudi Menuhin, who committed his existence to this tradition, than Kurtág’s Ligatura which can be heard as an urgent longing for transcendence and universal compassion?




for 2 Violins and String Orchestra




Dedicated to Edna Michell and Yehudi Menuhin.


Echorus (derived from the word echo), for two solo violins and string orchestra was composed in the winter of 1994-’95 for Edna Michell and Yehudi Menuhin. The piece is in A-B-A form and appears as a chaconne. The soloists either play the chaconne or melodic parts suggested by the harmonic structure. The music is inspired by thoughts of compassion and is meant to evoke feelings of serenity and peace.  — P.G.


Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997)

Wales Visitation



White fog lifting & falling on mountain-brow

   Trees moving in rivers of wind

     The clouds arise

as on a wave, gigantic eddy lifting mist

   above teeming ferns exquisitely swayed

            along a green crag

   glimpsed thru mullioned glass in valley raine -–


Bardic, O Self, Visitacione, tell naught

   but what seen by one man in a vale in Albion,

           of the folk, whose physical sciences end in Ecology,

                  The wisdom of earthly relations,

    of mouths & eyes interknit ten centuries visible

                 orchards of mind language manifest human,

of the satanic thistle that raises its horned symmetry

   flowering above sister grass-daisies’ pink tiny

   bloomlets angelic as lightbulbs – ...


All the Valley quivered, one extended motion, wind

            undulating on mossy hills

            a giant wash that sank white fog delicately down red runnels

            on the mountainside

            whose leaf-branch tendrils moved asway

in granitic undertow down –

and lifted the floating Nebulous upward, and lifted the arms of the trees

and lifted the grasses an instant in balance

and lifted the lambs to hold still

and lifted the green of the hill, in one solemn wave


A solid mass of Heaven, mist-infused, ebbs thru the vale,

a wavelet of Immensity, lapping gigantic through Llanthony Valley,

the length of all England, valley upon valley under Heaven's ocean

tonned with cloud-hang,

–Heaven balanced on a grass blade.

Roar of the mountain wind slow, sigh of the body,

One Being on the mountainside stirring gently

Exquisite scales trembling everywhere in balance,

one motion thru the cloudy sky-floor shifting on the million feet of daisies, ...

to the farthest tendril of white fog poured down

through shivering flowers on the mountain's head –


No imperfection in the budded mountain,

Valleys breathe, heaven and earth move together,

daisies push inches of yellow air, vegetables tremble,

grass shimmers green

sheep speckle the mountainside, revolving their jaws with empty eyes,

horses dance in the warm rain, tree-lined canals network live farmland,


blueberries fringe stone walls on hawthorn'd hills,

pheasants croak on meadows haired with fern –


Out, out on the hillside, into the ocean sound, into delicate gusts of wet air,

...Stare close, no imperfection in the grass,

each flower Buddha-eye, repeating the story,


Kneel before the foxglove raising green buds, mauve bells dropped

doubled down the stem trembling antennae,

& look in the eyes of the branded lambs that stare

breathing stockstill under dripping hawthorn – ...

One being so balanced, so vast, that its softest breath

moves every floweret in the stillness on the valley floor,

trembles lamb-hair hung gossamer rain-beaded in the grass,

lifts trees on their roots, birds in the great draught

hiding their strength in the rain, bearing same weight,


Groan thru breast and neck, a great Oh! to earth heart

Calling our Presence together

The great secret is no secret

Senses fit the winds,

Visible is visible,

rain-mist curtains wave through the bearded vale,

gray atoms wet the wind's kabbala

Crosslegged on a rock in dusk rain,

rubber booted in soft grass, mind moveless

breath trembles in white daisies by the roadside, ...

…The vision of the great One is myriad—

…The night, still wet & moody black heaven


upward in motion with wet wind.


      —July 29, 1967 (LSD) - August 3, 1967 (London)




for 2 Violins and String Orchestra



Dedicated to Edna Michell and Yehudi Menuhin.


Duet was composed in 1995 and is dedicated to Yehudi Menuhin, Edna Michell and those ideals of international understanding which Lord Menuhin has practiced throughout his life. The piece is scored for two solo violins and a small group of violas, celli and bass. Beginning and ending in F, the music is built around simple unison canons between the two violins which, from time to time, slightly vary the rhythmic distance between their two voices. — S.R.




1. Kaija Saariaho

Changing Light

for Soprano and Violin

Luyba Petrova, SOPRANO

Edna Michell, VIOLIN


The piece has been written for Edna Michell's Compassion Project. “In the composition I follow the idea of a dialogue, suggested by the text I have chosen. The intimate nature and fragile sound world of the duo mirror the fragility of our uncertain existence.”  — K.S.


Changing Light: The Eternal Cycle of Night and Day


Light and darkness, night and day.

We marvel at the mystery of the stars.

Moon and sky, sand and sea.

We marvel at the mystery of the sun.

Twilight, high noon, dusk and dawn.

Though we are mortal, we are Creation’s crown.

Flesh and bone, steel and stone.

We dwell in fragile, temporary shelters.

Grant steadfast love, compassion, grace.

Sustain us, Lord; our origin is dust.

Splendor, mercy, majesty, love endure.

We are but little lower than the angels.

Resplendent skies, sunset, sunrise.

The grandeur of Creation lifts our lives.

Evening darkness, morning dawn.

Renew our lives as You renew all time.


Reprinted from Siddur Sim Shalom, page 280, edited (translated from the Hebrew) by Rabbi Jules Harlow. © 1985 by The Rabbinical Assembly.


Three Frescoes from the Old Testament: Suite for Violin and Piano

2. Petr Eben: Saul at the Prophetess in En Dor

3. Oldrich F. Korte: Elihu Versus Job

4. Viktor Kalabis: Hallelujah

Edna Michell, VIOLIN

Frank Glazer, PIANO


In the spring of 1991, Czechoslovakia, intoxicated by new freedom after generations of domination by the Soviet Union, was a source of great interest for Western artists, who thronged to the Czech capital to sample the changed atmosphere. It was in Prague that the violinist Edna Michell, curious about the new freedom in creative life, approached three eminent Czech composers, Petr Eben, Oldrich Korte, and Viktor Kalabis, with the idea of their collaborating in the creation of a three movement work for violin and piano to be part of The Compassion Project. The three composers were of the same generation and shared artistic and spiritual inclinations. All had suffered profoundly under the Nazis and had been subject to censorship and extreme career frustrations under the communists. Michell’s unconventional idea – with the F-A-E Sonata (by Dietrich, Schumann and Brahms) in mind – encouraged the composers to preserve their original creative identities, individual musical languages, and personal treatment, while binding them together in a common endeavor.


Each composer had full freedom to choose whatever theme most inspired him. Michell had expected works reflecting the newly unrestricted creative possibilities now open to them and resulting from the elimination of censorship and extreme political bias which followed refusal to join the communist party. To her surprise, the three composers – each without the knowledge of the other – were all drawn to Biblical Old Testament themes. The Suite is dedicated to Edna Michell, who performed the world premiere with pianist Frank Glazer as part of the Prague Autumn Festival at Smetana Hall on September 12, 1993.


The eminent harpsichordist, Zuzana Ruzickova, widow of the composer Viktor Kalabis, commented: “I am amazed that Three Frescoes by three Czech composers each with a highly individual style,  resulted in a unique and coherent work of great inspiration, expression and human compassion.”  


“Saul at the Prophetess in En Dor

As a subject for the first Old Testament fresco, I chose a dramatic and magical scene from the first Book of Samuel. King Saul, faced with a crucial battle with the Philistines, waits in vain for an answer from the Lord: he wants to know if he will be victorious. During his reign, Saul had banished all prophetesses from his kingdom. But now, Saul asks the only surviving prophetess, who had hidden from him in En Dor, about the outcome of the battle. He asks her to invoke the spirit of the prophet Samuel. Samuel reveals to him a terrible future: not only Saul, but his three sons and his entire army, will perish in the battle. Horrified, Saul collapses in a paroxysm of fear.


The atmosphere of the composition is tempestuous, mysterious, and tragic. It starts with a G note, to which it often returns, especially in the violin part, because the lowest tone of this instrument has an especially suggestive power.  — P.E.


“Elihu Contra Job”

The Book of Job takes place against a background of Satan and God vying for man’s soul and the endurance of his faith. At the end of a dramatic discussion between the suffering Job and his friends, a man bearing the blessed name of Elihu enters. Job, righteous in his own eyes, refuses to acknowledge the cruel blows of his fate as God's just punishment. It is only Elihu, the youngest, but only enlightened participant in the debate, who guides the wretched Job towards final acceptance of God’s judgment.


In the biblical story, Elihu speaks in an uninterrupted monologue in response to Job's pronouncements to his friends. This musical concept presents their interaction as a dialogue. In contrast to Job’s increasing despair, agitated rebukes, and painful tragedy, Elihu responds with comforting calm and clear-sighted transcendent surety, reflecting the positive pulse of cosmic harmony. The composition begins with an outpouring of bitter questions, but it crystallizes into a final address that, although it bears an inescapable tinge of the tragic aspects of life, is in the spirit of a declaration by Comenius: “Thou who said ‘let there be light’ and there was light—thy will be done!”  — O.F.K.


“Hallelujah (Psalm 150)”

The text of Psalm 150 is well known. It is a glorification of God: Hallelujah! How gladly I would make all strings resound to sing God’s praises. But my song is somewhat timid, somewhat hesitant. After all, I have seen the Holocaust, and I’ve witnessed the horribly self-destructive civil war in Yugoslavia. I must ask, “God, did this have to be? Does it have to be again?” So far I have no answer.


And yet I sing my timid Hallelujah…  — V.K.


5. Luciano Berio


for Clarinet and Viola

David Shifrin, CLARINET

Ettore Causa, VIOLA


Glossa (for clarinet in B flat and viola) was composed by Luciano Berio in 1997 for an unknown destination and was not submitted for publication. It is derived from Alternatim (for clarinet, viola and orchestra) premiered in June 1997 by the Concertgebouw Orchestra with Berio conducting.


In 1995 Berio was invited by Yehudi Menuhin and Edna Michell to participate in the Compassion Project. Extant correspondence from those years bears references to Berio’s intention to compose first a “short piece for violin, clarinet and string orchestra” later referred to as Glossa, then a piece titled T’filah (prayer in Hebrew) for violin and clarinet. There is no evidence of the materialization of these compositional projects nor a connection between them and the present Glossa.


The piece, which is performed here for the first time, has been released for publication by the composer’s heirs as a tribute to the Compassion project and to Berio’s friendship with Menuhin and Michell. — CENTRO STUDI LUCIANO BERIO 2016


6. Boris Tishchenko

Wild Honey Smells of Freedom

for Soprano, Violin and Cello

Luyba Petrova, SOPRANO

Edna Michell, VIOLIN

Ole Akahoshi, CELLO


Contemplating the theme of compassion, composer and professor of St. Petersburg Conservatoire Boris Tishchenko turned to one of his favorite Russian poets, Anna Akhmatova. Her life and poetry are a living memorial to endurance and the ability to love and be compassionate to all people, to the whole of mankind. This romance captures the sense of horror in the world, it relates to the terrible bloodshed of the 20th Century. Yet the piece is full of love as is the world. The work inspired the composer to write a whole series of pieces on the same theme.


Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966)

Wild Honey Smells of Freedom, 1933


Wild honey smells of freedom

Dust of the sun’s rays

A girl’s lips, of violets

And gold, of nothing


A mignonette smells of water

Love, of apples

But we have learnt forever more,

That blood smells only of blood…


7. Sean Hickey


for Flute and English Horn

Tara Helen O'Connor, FLUTE

Claire Brazeau, ENGLISH HORN


Lunula — “Little moon” in Latin — is something that every inhabitant of earth experiences provided they can go outside and look up. If one looks down at one's thumbs there it is again in the bed of the nail, and common to all humans with fingers. I suppose I could continue the metaphor, but it seemed somewhat apt in the understanding of compassion, and my strong personal desire to demonstrate it. I’m a pretty devout pacifist, and finding commonality with all persons — though hard to do — is something we must look for, either under the skin or in the stars.

The piece is dedicated to Edna Michell.  — S.H.


8. Josef Tal

Piano Quartet

Cantilena Piano Quartet:

Edna Michell, VIOLIN

Philipp Naegele, VIOLA

Steven Thomas, CELLO

Frank Glazer, PIANO


The Piano Quartet is a one-movement composition based on only one figurative germ, which has to prove its inner properties during the states of its growing. It produces also contradictions, animates discussions amongst the four players, though everyone refers to the main thesis, carefully avoiding diversion from the common subject. There are moments of utmost concentration and places for meditation on accumulated sayings. The natural differences of opinion between the string instrument and piano sounds are unified under the roof of the composition as a whole.

— J.T.  © IMI. Used by permission from the Israel Music Institute (IMI).


9. Gennady Banshchikov


for Violin and Cello

Edna Michell, VIOLIN

Ole Akahoshi, CELLO


I composed Elegy in the Summer of 2004 for the Compassion Project. The piece is a duet for the two wonderful musical instruments - a conversation between them is the best way to commemorate the musical legacy of Yehudi Menuhin. I dedicate this Elegy to the violinist, Edna Michell, and to the memory of Yehudi Menuhin.  — G.B.


10. Lukas Foss

Round a Common Center

for Piano Quintet, Mezzo-Soprano and Narration

Yehudi Menuhin, VIOLIN

Cantilena Piano Quartet:

Edna Michell, VIOLIN

Philipp Naegele, VIOLA


Frank Glazer, PIANO


Elaine Bonazzi, MEZZO-SOPRANO

Orson Welles, NARRATOR


When Edna Michell asked me if I would be interested in a commission for a new piece to be premiered at the U.S. 1980 Winter Olympics* I said yes immediately. I wanted to be involved. I felt that the spirit of Hellas with its celebration of art and sport was here again. Flute playing, for example, had been part of the ancient Greek Olympic Games. Edna requested that an optional voice part be included with the combination of piano and strings. This presented something of a challenge to the composer’s ingenuity. A little later — I was already half-way through the composition — she asked me for yet another optional part for Yehudi Menuhin, who was to perform with the Cantilena Chamber Players at the Olympics.


I found a little-known poem by my friend W.H. Auden - “The Runner” written in 1960 for a documentary film. This poem ties in music with the mystery of the athlete’s motion: its narration would make sense musically as well as fit the occasion.


My task had now become absurdly complicated: the piece would have to be written so it could be played as a Piano Quartet or a Piano Quintet, and with or without voice – in short, an all-purpose piece. The problem with all-purpose pieces is that they usually work equally badly in every version. I hope that I have solved the problem somewhat more successfully.


Round A Common Center is a tonal piece. It is also very much an American piece. The harmony of the opening section and the rhythmic-athletic drive of the main section bear this out. In fact, there are some ‘country’ and ‘rock’ connotations. A single invertible harmonic idea provides a common center; everything that happens harmonically grows out of these intervals or reverts back to them. After a slow, scale-obsessed introduction follows the main body of the work, in which all instruments play continuously in marathon fashion, sometimes raucously, sometimes inaudibly. The pianist plays numerous 16th notes unrelentingly. The optional voice whispers, solfeges, strikes the piano strings with rubber mallets, and sings into the sounding board of the piano. The coda presents the singer with the one long vocal line of the piece. Round A Common Center is strictly for virtuosi. It is dedicated to the Cantilena Chamber Players.  — L.F.


*Round a Common Center was written in 1980 before the development of The Compassion Project. This recording is included for its spirit of unity — also a goal of the Project — and for its featuring Menuhin's performance alongside the Cantilena Piano Quartet with Elaine Bonazzi, and Orson Welles.




Edna Michell has enjoyed a highly versatile and distinguished international career both as a soloist and chamber musician. In addition, she is the founder of a chamber ensemble and is a renowned violin pedagogue, recognized for her pioneering efforts in expanding the violin and chamber music repertoire. She has taught at major musical institutions in the United States, Europe and Israel. More than forty new works have been written for her as a soloist and for the chamber music ensembles with whom she has been associated.


Her extensive musical activities include founding and directing the Adirondack Music Festival and the Adirondack Institute for Advanced Musical Studies with Janos Starker, Henryk Szeryng, Aldo Parisot, Roman Totenberg, György Sebők, and Walter Trampler. She also founded the Helena Rubinstein Concerts, sponsored by the Helena Rubinstein Foundation, has created musical television programs and has organized workshops and seminars, as well as other musical activities including collaborations with Lukas Foss and Yehudi Menuhin in the filming of An Olympic Overture. She collaborated on numerous musical projects with Maestro Menuhin over a period of many years. Ms. Michell also founded the Cantilena Chamber Players and the Cantilena Piano Quartet, which quickly became a leading chamber ensemble touring extensively in Europe and the U.S.


Michell began her performing career at the age of nine, which has since taken her throughout Europe, Central and South America and Israel where she was born and received her early music training. After being awarded the Yehudi Menuhin Scholarship, Ms. Michell continued her studies in London with Max Rostal and Yehudi Menuhin, and became the youngest student to graduate from the Guildhall School of Music. Ms. Michell further studied with Ivan Galamian, Zino Fransescatti and Henryk Szeryng in the United States. She performed with such eminent conductors as Walter Susskind, Norman Del Mar, Lukas Foss, and Sir Yehudi Menuhin. Her recordings are to be found on Supraphon, Grenadilla, Point, Arabesque, Musical Heritage, Pro-Arte and New World Recordings.


Ms. Michell is a faculty member of Mannes College of Music in New York City. She has conducted master classes in the U.S., Europe and Israel and is frequently invited to serve as a jury member for international violin competitions. Ms. Michell plays a J.B. Guadagnini 1769 violin as well as a modern instrument by Samuel Zygmuntowicz. 





Produced and engineered by Max Wilcox.

Recording engineers: Paul Zinman, Ceněk Kotzmann and Marc Seiffige.

Edited by Max Wilcox and Dirk Sobotka.

Recorded: Rudolfinum, Dvořák Hall, Prague – Aug. 29 & Sept. 2, 1999; Aug. 28 & 30, 2000;

American Academy of Arts and Letters, NYC – Nov. 7, 2000;

Hochscule für Musik, Karlsruhe, Germany – Feb.10, 2001.



Album produced and mastered by Jonathan Schultz.

Tracks 1, 6, 9 produced by Max Wilcox; engineered, edited by Max Wilcox, Jonathan Schultz.

Recorded June 3, 2010 at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, NYC.

Tracks 2, 3, 4 recorded in Prague, 1994.

Tracks 5, 7 produced, engineered and edited by Jonathan Schultz.

Recorded May 25, 2016 at the Sommer Center Chapel, Concordia College, Bronxville, NY.

Track 8 recorded at Jerusalem Music Center, Israel, 1993; edited by Jonathan Schultz.

Track 10 produced by Judith Sherman for the 1982 Pro Arte Records release.

Used by permission from Entertainment One.



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