Ullmann: Songs

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LABELS: Supraphon
WORKS: Songs
PERFORMER: Petr Matuszek (baritone), AlesŠ KanŠka (piano), Pavel Eret (violin), Libor KanŠka (viola), Vladan KocŠí (cello)
Although his stage works are at last being discovered and performed, the songs of Viktor Ullmann, the German/Jewish pianist, composer and conductor who contributed much to the musical life of Czechoslovakia’s inter-war years in general and Terezín in particular, are still little known. Ullmann’s commitment to his community in Terezín is movingly revealed in the epigrammatic settings of Der Mensch und sein Tag and the Drei Chinesische Lieder, written a year before his death in Auschwitz. And his no less ardent commitment to Rudolf Steiner’s esoteric philosophy, anthroposophy, can be perceived in songs such as ‘Weihnachtsmorgen in Dornach’ from the Geistliche Lieder of 1940. Ullmann’s strongly individual voice is numbed somewhat here by the monochrome earnestness of Petr Matuszek’s baritone; and there is no translation of the German songtexts. Hilary Finch