The third instalment of the Likht Ensemble’s Shoah Songbook project features music from Poland; specifically from the Lodz ghetto and Auschwitz-Birkenau. It’s available now on the Harold Green Jewish Theatre channel on Youtube. Here’s the link. There’s about 12 minutes of useful introductory material and 25 minutes of music.
There’s a song by Miriam Harel about the Lodz ghetto sung in Polish by Jaclyn Grossman accompanied by Aaron Schwebel on violin. This is followed by three Polonaises arranged from 18th century melodies by Szymon Laks; conductor of the Auschwitz-Birkenau orchestra and a survivor. Here they are arranged by Nate Ben-Horin for violin (Schwebel) and piano (Ben-Horin). They are accompanied by newsreel footage of Jewish life in Warsaw before and during the war and of the destruction.
Splitting the first two Polonaises is Laks’ song “Elegy for Jewish Villages”; also sung in Polish, while between the second and third is a song of unknown origin; “Because I am a Little Jew” sung in Yiddish. Finally there’s a seriously intense arrangement of Mordechai Gebirtig’s “It’s Burning” sung in Yiddish with interpolated spoken text in English.
This is a very moving short concert. It’s beautifully played and sung and the recording, made in Koerner Hall, is first rate.