Monday, January 23, 2012

Holocaust Museum offers chamber CD series: Here is #4 (Korngold Starer, Lees)

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum offers a CD series on Albany Records chamber music called “Darkness & Light”.  I picked up #4 Saturday night at Dumbarton, with Steven Honigberg, cello on all items (except the Korngold).

The first work is Romance, Op. 4, with piano (Carol Honigberg) by Leo Warner.

There follows “Song of Solitude” (1955) by Robert Starer, for unaccompanied cello.

Then Robert Stern offers the 10-piece suite “To the Memory of the Children of Terezin”, with piano (the composer) and Paulina Spark, soprano, in some items. These are based on a book of poems by the children in Theresienstadt, the “paradise ghetto”, called “I Never Saw a Butterfly”.  Much of Herman Wouk’s novel (and TV series) “War and Remembrance” takes place there, where the Germans constructed a closed world where their prisoners pretended they had some of their old life, before transport to the camps.  The music is rather like early Schoenberg, rather post-Mahler. The last song of this cycle ends a lush fortissimo, which is unusual in post-romantic or expressionistic song cycles. 

There follows “6 Piano Pieces on Don Quixote”  by Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1909, the same year as the Mahler Ninth, with a similar harmonic and polyphonic palette, but on the solo piano).

The last item is the lush Piano Trio #2, “Silent Voices”, by Benjamin Lees (15 min), which settles down into silence only at the end.

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