Principal clarinet rediscovers Klezmer roots

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 ·

Cleveland Orchestra principal clarinet Franklin Cohen recently released a new recording of Osvaldo Golijov’s The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind, which he will perform with The Cleveland Orchestra on May 13 and 15 at 8 p.m.

Mr. Cohen will sign copies of the CD following both performances, and the recording is available for purchase at the Cleveland Orchestra Store and online at

Last December, Mr. Cohen and his violinist daughter, Diana, along with their friends Isabel Trautwein, Kirsten Docter, and Tanya Ell, gathered in Warner Hall at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music to record Osvaldo Golijov’s The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind for klezmer clarinet and string quartet. The work is a “klezmer fantasy” of sorts and uses the clarinet and bass clarinet in unconventional and colorful ways.

As Golijov explains in the score, “The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind is a kind of epic, a history of Judaism. The movements sound like they are in three of the languages spoken in almost 6,000 years of Jewish history ... I never wrote it with this idea in mind, and only understood it when the work was finished.”

Mr. Cohen describes the piece as a “profoundly transformational journey that has taken me closer to my Eastern European musical roots.”

Read preview articles in the Cleveland Jewish News, The Plain Dealer, or, or listen to an interview with Mr. Cohen and his daughter, Diana, on WCPN 90.3 FM’s Around Noon.

Visit for more information about the performances this weekend.

Listen to excerpts from the recording:
Mvt. 1: Prelude, Calmo sospeso
Mvt. 2: Agitato, minaccioso

CD cover painting: Roman Rabinovich: Dancer in the dark (2008)
Graphics by: Cover to Cover Design

Photo of Franklin Cohen by Gary Adams.


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