In May 2020, I posted Sariza Cohen’s stunning recording of “أَشْكُوا الْغَـرَامَ”(Ashku al-gharam), released on Polydor in 1938. This is the other side of that record. It is no less remarkable. Here the pianist and vocalist from Oran performs a composition by Algerian Jewish impresario Edmond Nathan Yafil. The title of the piece is given simply as “Mihna” and “Épreuve,” both of which mean “hardship” (in Arabic and French, respectively). Her voice and piano-playing are exquisite. So is the ʿud which adorns the three minute recording.
For many years, the memory of Sariza was kept alive by someone who shared her city and her passion for Algerian music and culture: the late scholar Hadj Miliani (1951-2021). Indeed, it is largely thanks to the intrepid and inimitable Miliani that we know what we know of Sariza in the first place––from her frequent appearances on radio to her close relationship with the revolutionary Francophone Algerian poet Jean Sénac. Deservedly, there have been many tributes to Miliani since his unexpected passing in July 2021. You can read one such homage by Omar Carlier here and here. This post, dedicated to Miliani, is but a small contribution to that effort. He was and remains an inspiration.
Title: Épreuve – Mihna (Yafil)
Catalogue Number: 524 448
Matrix Number: 4022 HPP
Date of Pressing: 1938
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