Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

We must bear witness

Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II
For the dead and the living, we must bear witness. Not only are we responsible for the memories of the dead, we are responsible for what we do with those memories.
 - Elie Wiesel
In the 1940s Soviet ethnomusicologists led by Moisei Beregovsky recorded amazing Yiddish songs from those terrible times, both in Russia and in Nazi-occupied Europe. This vital research was sealed, and for many years it was thought to be lost forever. But librarians at the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine discovered the dusty boxes and catalogued them. Bless the librarians! Early in this century musicologist Anna Shternshis turned this invaluable archive into materials usable by today's musicians. This marvellous CD from Six Degree Records is the result.

What's so exciting about this music is how, in the face of such horrors, the lyrics are so often funny and surprisingly modern, while the music is so vital and alive. The arrangements are by Psoy Korolenko, who also provides vocals for many of the tracks, while Sophie Milman, Sergei Erdenko, Sasha Lurje and the young Isaac Rosenberg provide unforgettable interpretations of this sad but hopeful music. The band really swings: it includes violin, piano, guitar, accordion, clarinet and trumpet. This is an outstanding project musically, and an invaluable resource historically.

For more information visit the Six Degrees Records website.

Alert for Torontonians: The Lost Songs of World War II will be presented live with an 11-piece ensemble of elite soloists at Koerner Hall at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto on Aug, 28 to open the 2018 Ashkenaz Festival.

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