The Schmooze

Classical Rediscoveries for the New Year

World War II delayed the just appreciation of many wonderful Jewish composers, such as Mieczyslaw Weinberg, a Russian composer who died in 1996. Trio Voce, a gifted piano trio, has nimbly recorded Weinberg’s multifaceted Trio, Op. 24 on Con Brio Recordings, bringing out the composer’s attachment to the works of J. S. Bach.

Viktor Ullmann, a Silesia-born composer of Jewish origin, was murdered in Auschwitz in 1944, and is now sufficiently recorded that listeners — as with increasing numbers of excellent composers whose lives and music were blotted out by the Holocaust — may admire him for his talent, not merely out of dutiful sympathy. A 1997 performance, newly released on CD from Hänssler Classic, of Ullmann’s work for narrator and piano, “The Lay of the Love and Death of the Flagbearer Christoph Rilke” teams the baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau — a mighty actor as well as singer — with the spiky, uncompromising pianism of Hartmut Höll. Ullmann’s work sets a text by Rainer Maria Rilke about his 17th century ancestor who died in battle, thereby expressing the dangers of war as an oft-fatal initiation rite, as indeed it turned out to be for Ullmann.

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Classical Rediscoveries for the New Year

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