This week in the Jewish calendar is a period of time called the “Aseret Y’mei Teshuva” - the ten days of repentance between Rosh Hashanah, the new year, and Yom Kippur, the day of atonement.
The story goes that Max Bruch was invited by a Jewish friend of his to prayer on the the eve of Yom Kippur, one of the most stirring and emotional prayers of the entire year. After hearing this first prayer, sung three times by the cantor and then congregation, he wrote down the music and set it for cello and orchestra (as well as another, lesser-known Jewish prayer in the middle of the composition). It is titled Kol Nidrei, referring to “All Vows” that are lifted on that day so everyone can have a fresh start for the new year.
Playing the solo part in this video is the famous Jacqueline du Pre, one of the greatest cellists to ever live but whose career was tragically cut short by multiple sclerosis. You can hear her emotion in every note and this is arguably the greatest recording of the piece.