Thursday, September 18, 2014

Böhmen & Mähren: Music by Jewish Composers

This important Koch classics disc features works by four Jewish composers who all perished between 1942-1945 with Nazism in full swing, sucking every last drop of humanity off the globe during this period.
Pavel Haas was sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp (only 3 compositions that he wrote in Theresienstadt still survive) on Dec. 1941, the same year as composer Gideon Klein. Haas's "Studie fur Streichorchester" is partially inspired by Moravian folk-song, along with Jewish synagogue chants (during the fugue theme) although I don't think these elements will be obvious to listeners.
Pavel Haas died in 1944 after being deported to Auschwitz. Rudolf Karel's "Nonet" has a rich almost orchestral sound & a relaxed happy sound in the outer movements-giving no inkling that the composer wrote this while in Theresienstadt. Rudolf Karel died in a gestapo prison, only 2 months before the end of the war. Gideon Klein's "Partita for String Orchestra" (my 2nd favorite piece on the disc, after the Schulhoff) is in 3 movements, each based somewhat on elements of folk-music, but this is distanced by quirky harmonies. Many of Klein's works were lost at Theresienstadt however among his surviving works are Piano Sonatas, a Duet for Cello and Violin, a String Quartet and music for String Quartet, some other chamber music and a String Trio (The Partita is an arrangement of this work), which was Klein's last work, completed 9 days before his deportation to Auschwitz where he was killed soon age 25. Erwin Schulhoff is one of my favorite composers, his "Double Concerto for Flute, Piano and Orchestra was written during the height of his powers, the outer movements with long pronounced rhythms offer effective contrasts to the lovely lyrical episodes. I think if you like Martinu, Poulenc, Hindemith etc. you will like Schulhoff. In the early 1920's Schulhoff was writing Jazz-inspired works (as was Shostakovich and others) as well as expressionistic, dadaist compositions during a period where he was hanging out in European avant-garde circles. I prefer the works from 1927-onwards and will post in the near future. The gestapo had Schulhoff interned in Wulzburg, Bavaria where he died of typhus in 1942. Enjoy this disc of inspired music created amidst unfathomable conditions. 



Anonymous said...

The Schulhoff is gorgeous! thx

Tzadik said...

Happy you like anon-dude, the Schulhoff is my favorite work on here :)

Toon van Dijk said...

I've search the history of your uploads and I found a lot of interesting posts. It will take some time to download all and even more time hear all.
I send you my regards with best wishes for 2015