Spiritual Resistance: Music from Theresienstadt

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COMPOSERS: Berman,Haas,Klein,Krása,Schul & Ullmann
LABELS: Bridge
WORKS: Songs by Berman, Haas, Klein, Krása, Schul & Ullmann
PERFORMER: Wolfgang Holzmair (baritone), Russell Ryan (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: Bridge 9280

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This new anthology brings us still more music from Theresienstadt; but mourning can never end, and each rediscovery is a celebration of the dignity of each murdered individual there. It’s presented by Wolfgang Holzmair and includes two voices new to me: first, that of Zikmund Schul, German-born, and Prague-trained. Less than ten of his compositions survive – and Holzmair sings his ‘Die Nicht-Gewesenen’ (‘What never was’) with ardent and tender commitment.

The other voice is that of the composer-poet Ilse Weber: Holzmair reads with understated eloquence her heart-breaking poem of exile, ‘Ich wandre durch Theresienstadt’. Viktor Ullmann, whose music is now well-known, felt, unlike Weber, that art and specifically music should stand ‘in complete opposition to the surrounding world’.

His ‘12 Images by Hans Gunther Adler’, Der Mensch und sein Tag, epitomise this viewpoint: Holzmair and his pianist Russell Ryan capture the taut resonances of these tiny, haiku-like vignettes of the moods a day.

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Haas, Krasa and Klein are here too; and the songs are movingly interspersed with a sequence of Karel Berman’s solo piano Reminiscences, from ‘Family Home’ through ‘Corpse Factory’, and on to ‘New Life’ – for Berman survived to tell the tale. Hilary Finch