LABELS: Channel Classics
WORKS: Brundibár; Czech Songs
PERFORMER: Disman Radio Children’s Ensemble/Joza Karas
CATALOGUE NO: CCS 5193 DDD
This is the second recording of Hans Krása’s marvellous children’s opera to appear in the last two years. Composed in Prague in 1938, it became a mainstay of the repertoire in the transit concentration camp, Terezín. Krása, a Czech Jewish composer of enormous promise, eventually died in Auschwitz. The opera, which was performed 55 times in the camp, tells the story of two children who defeat the evil organ-grinder Brundibár and bring milk to their sick mother.
The opera equals the best of Britten’s children’s music. Stravinsky and Janácek stand in the background of his musical style and there are parallels with Martinu. Brundibár is full of jazz-inspired melody which stays in the mind. This excellent new performance by the Disman Radio Children’s Ensemble of Prague is a reconstruction of the version used in Terezín and is noticeably less well padded than the winning performance on Romantic Robot which appeared last year. Some sweetly neo-Dvorákian Czech songs by Frantisec Domazlicky, a survivor of Terezín, for quartet and children’s chorus make up a brief but unmissable issue. If occasionally a touch raw, the performances have a vivid and splendidly theatrical feel which cannot fail to move the listener. Jan Smaczny