The springtime Jewish holiday of Passover is about liberation from slavery in ancient Egypt. In this one-hour special, superstar violinist Itzhak Perlman shares Passover music from many traditions, plus songs and memories from his childhood in Israel. The program draws its shape from the Passover seder and, like that ancient family ritual, the music gets progressively giddier as the show moves along.
Selections include music from familiar classical works (Handel’s Israel in Egypt), and from lesser-known classical pieces (Halévy’s opera La Juive, with Jan Peerce; Dessau’s 1934 German setting of the Haggadah; Korngold’s glorious Passover Psalm). Perlman’s playing is represented by a duet with Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot, as well as the beloved theme from Schindler’s List. Other recordings include unusual takes on traditional tunes, like a swing “Dayenu,” “Who Knows One?” in Ladino, the zany Moishe Oysher treatment of “Chad Gadya,” and “Go Down, Moses” sung by Paul Robeson.