Born into a family that had lived in Florence since the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968) entertained only a distant relationship with the music he heard at synagogue: a Renaissance church held more appeal for the Florentine artist than the Oriental décor of his forefathers’ place of worship. It was only when he discovered Schelemo, a rhapsody for cello and orchestra written in 1916 by Ernest Bloch, that he began to understand what ´´Jewish music” could be. It would take until the death of his maternal grandfather, and the discovery of a collection of prayers set to music among his papers, for the young Castelnuovo-Tedesco to begin to explore Jewish music.In 1928, two years after publishing the Dances of King David, he wrote this Vocalise-Étude for medium voice and piano at the request of vocal teacher Amédée-Landély Hettich, who wanted to include it in the Répertoire moderne de Vocalises-Études published by Leduc. The piece became so popular that it led to several adaptations, and the composer asked his close friend Gioacchino Maglioni (1891-1966) to transcribe it for violin and piano.Divided into three sections, the work opens with a poignant lamento that grieves the tragic fate of the Jewish people. Countering what he felt to be a tendency of Jewish music to transform into a ´´Wailing Wall”, Castelnuovo-Tedesco follows the lamento with a folk dance whose brisk, ´´lively and stubborn” movement has great panache. The third section returns to the initial poignant theme before briefly reiterating the dance motif, allowing the piece to conclude on a hopeful note.