Recordings of the liturgical music of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews of London
by Rabbi Jonathan Cohen
The musical tradition of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish Community of London is to my mind exceptionally beautiful. It is distinctly Sephardi yet also distinctly Western - even English. Parts of it vaguely recall Gregorian Chant and the modes of non-Western music; others are clearly influenced by the Italian Baroque, and all of it is sensitive to the liturgy it interprets, refined, elegant, and understated.
One of the things that immediately impresses people who attend an S&P service for the first time is that there are no excessively ornamented or "operatic" recitatives by the hazzan (reader). Most of the music has a sweet simplicity, and the choir and reader lead the congregation rather than taking front stage themselves. For more about the historical background of the tradition, see the About S&P Music page.
Note that several of the pages in the menu on the left have sub-pages, that can only be reached from their parent pages. For example, the Bendigamos and Na'ar Hayiti pages are not listed on the left, but are linked to in Table Songs.
Except where indicated by a code, all recordings are by me. They have no pretensions to perfection, having been made at home (frequently at the end of a long day) using my computer's built in microphone, employing the principle that I don't go back and re-record unless there's an actual error. It just seems to me more useful to get as much of it as possible online in the limited time I have available to do this.
This site is a work in progress, and new recordings are added fairly frequently.
All recordings are copyright © 2009, 2015, Jonathan Cohen.
Non-commercial use is allowed and encouraged.
Last update: 12 January 2015