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SACD Review

Norbert Glanzberg

  • Holocaust Lieder
  • Yiddish Suite
Roman Trekel, baritone
Mulhouse Symphony Orchestra/Daniel Klajner
Dabringhaus & Grimm MDG9011588-6 Hybrid Multichannel SACD 70min
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With the Holocaust tragedy perpetually in the news, this CD is in itself an event of immense importance, not only because it brings to the fore a contemporary composer of great musical invention, but also because hardly anything by Glanzberg has ever been put either on vinyl or CD before.

Born in Poland in 1910 (so this year marks the centenary of his birth), Norbert Glanzberg dedicated many years of his long life to film music, songs and show business. His name, up till the last quarter of his career, was always associated with the entertainment world and such famous names as Edith Piaf, Yves Montand and Maurice Chevalier. After the death of these friends Glanzberg no longer felt at home in modern pop culture, and began to reflect on his Jewish background. This return to his childhood roots affected him deeply and the results were the two works on this disc.

The "Yiddish Suite" depicts scenes from life in the villages of Eastern Europe – a world Glanzberg knew only from stories – and the music is a dark reflection of the miseries experienced by many ethnic groups, Jews included. A lullaby, a waltz, a Jewish wedding song are heard; then, reminiscences of Shostakovich recall the Cossack pogroms.

The "Holocaust Songs" are based on poems by concentration camp prisoners including Jews and resistance fighters. These are very special studies, rousing, impassioned, intimate and often profoundly moving, and Roman Trekel interprets them with great emotional feeling and memorable virtuosity.

Shortly prior to Glanzberg's death in 2001, Frederic Chaslin and conductor Daniel Klajner orchestrated these pieces, and the latter's interpretations are nothing short of compelling. This is a milestone of an issue, in superb sound and absorbing annotations.

Copyright © 2010, Gerald Fenech.