BBC Music Magazine
After the Darkness
Krasa: Passacaglia & Fuga;
Tanec; Klein: String trio;
The Hague String Trio
Cobra 0065 61:13 mins
This thoughtful disc collects rarely-heard works for string trio composed in the shadow of Nazi occupation. Its evocative title, After the Darkness, refers to the book by Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel, and a number of these works were written while the composers were interned in ghettos and concentration camps. This outstanding music nonetheless burns bright, and the Hague String Trio brings energy and soul to this heartfelt collection.
A highpoint of the disc is a world premiere recording of
Dick Kattenburg’s Trio à cordes, completed on the brink of World War II, when Jewish participation in professional musical life effectively vanished. The Hague Trio happened on this almost entirely forgotten work while exploring the Netherlands Muziek Instituut and were delighted to discover Kattenburg’s original manuscript ‘with comic doodles scribbled in the margins’. Concise and powerful, the trio is a vibrant single-movement work packed with invention, and performed here with dizzying verve.
Other highlights include Gideon Klein’s String Trio, composed in 1944 while Klein was imprisoned in the Terezín prison camp. With echoes of Janá ek, the work blends fierce energy in its two outer movements with a spellbinding series of variations on a Moravian folk song. Folk music also infuses Hans Krása’s vibrant Tanec (Dance), while his Passacaglia and Fuga teeters between solemnity and waltz-like flamboyance. The recording is a touch too intimate: the players’ breathing is often audible which soon grows distracting. However, this is otherwise an accomplished and affecting disc performed with great skill and care. Kate Wakeling