Shoah Songbook 3 – Poland

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.


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From another planet

Yesterday lunchtime in the RBA soprano Lauren Eberwein and the Rosebud String Quartet (Sheila Jaffé, Aaron Schwebel, Keith Hamm and Rachel Desoer) entertained us with a program of Haydn and Schoenberg.  First up was an arrangement of Haydn’s Arianna a Naxos.  We got the recitative, Teseo mio ben, and the two arias, Dove sei and Ah! che morir vorrei.  It’s basically a cantata with tessitura that sits very nicely for Lauren’s voice.  It was an elegant performance all round with some passion in the concluding aria.  And it’s always good to hear a Haydn vocal work.


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Quartet for the End of Time

Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time is a work of astonishing power and unique provenance.  It was written after Messiaen’s capture in June 1940 at the POW camp Stalag VIII-A in Görlitz in what is now Poland.  First performed for POWs and guards in 1941 it is, most unusually, scored for piano, clarinet, cello and violin because that’s what the professional musicians among the POWs played.  What always strikes me about this work, familiar since my early teens, is how it combines Messiaen’s transcendent and deeply optimistic faith with a kind of passionate statement about the state of the world rooted in Revelations.  The contrasts are there throughout the work’s eight movements but nowhere more clearly than at the end when the power and even fury of Danse de la fureur pour les sept trompettes and the Fouillis des arcs-en-ciel, pour l’Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps dissolve into the lyrical serenity of Louange à l’immortalité de Jésus.  And, of course, there is birdsong in the haunting clarinet movement Abime des oiseaux.


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