Terezín/Theresienstadt is a CD of music composed in the concentration camp at Terezín in what was then Czechoslovakia. Virtually the entire Czech intelligentsia; certainly those of Jewish or Communist persuasion, were imprisoned in a kind of “show camp” to demonstrate to the world that the Nazis weren’t as bad as made out. Nine of the ten composers featured on the disc ended up on a “Polentransport”; a one way ticket to Auschwitz. No story is more poignant than that of Ilse Weber, a nurse in the hospital. She chose to accompany the sick children of the camp on their final journey and reportedly sang to them in the gas chamber.
It’s hard to think of a more appropriate work for Toronto this February than A Winter Journey although one could make a good case for A Winter Stay at Home with a Hot Water Bottle and a Bottle of Whisky. Unfortunately Schubert didn’t set the latter so it was Winterreise we got from German baritone and pianist Christian Gerhaher and Gerold Huber at Koerner Hall last night. It was completely classical. Two men in tails walked out and performed the 24 songs of this most demanding cycle. There were no histrionics. There was no interpretive dance. There were no video projections. Indeed so unhistrionic was it that I don’t believe Herr Gerhaher’s right hand left the piano the entire time.