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Holocaust Victim Is Remembered With His Music

Holocaust Victim Is Remembered With His Music

Holocaust Victim Is Remembered With His Music
By VIVIEN SCHWEITZER
September 12, 2010
New York Times

A day before its memorial concert on Saturday for victims and survivors of the Sept. 11 attacks, Bargemusic paid tribute to the victims of another atrocity -- Jewish composers killed during the Holocaust.

The pianist Rita Sloan spoke briefly about Gideon Klein, a composer from Czechoslovakia who died in 1945 at 26 under unknown circumstances -- probably in a labor camp or during a forced march. Klein wrote several scores during his internment in the Theresienstadt concentration camp, where many prominent artists, scientists and scholars were held before being sent to Auschwitz. He encouraged musicians like Viktor Ullmann and Pavel Haas, who were interned with him, to continue composing.

The works that Klein wrote in Theresienstadt (which the Nazis used as a propaganda tool, showcasing its supposedly ideal living conditions) show the influence of Janacek, Berg and Schoenberg. Klein intended his Sonata for Piano to have four movements, but he completed only three.

Ms. Sloan offered an inelegant and unconvincing interpretation of the expressionistic sonata, whose declamatory first movement ("Allegro con Fuoco") is interspersed with more introspective interludes. A simmering tension underpins the ruminative Adagio. The concluding Allegro Vivace is driven by a bristling urgency, whose drama is intertwined with moments of wistful humor.

Klein's sonata was part of an all-Czech program that opened with a beautifully nuanced interpretation of Martinu's Madrigals for Violin and Viola. Martinu, who immigrated in 1941 to the United States, was inspired to write the work after listening to a performance of the Mozart violin-viola duos by Joseph and Lillian Fuchs, to whom he dedicated the Madrigals.

The violinist Renata Arado and the violist Espen Lilleslatten offered a lovely reading of this charming piece, vividly illuminating the counterpoint and homophonic textures of the rhythmically driven first movement and playing the elegiac trills in the second movement with finesse.

Ms. Arado and Mr. Lilleslatten were joined by the violinist Adele Anthony for a sweet-toned rendition of Dvorak's Terzetto in C, offering a deeply expressive interpretation of the soulful Larghetto. Dvorak's love of folk idioms is apparent in the rhythmically complex Scherzo. The work concludes with a sometimes dark-hued Theme and Variations.
The concert ended on a high-spirited note when Ms. Anthony, Ms. Arado, Ms. Sloan
and Mr. Lilleslatten were joined by the cellist Darrett Adkins for an energetic and insightful reading of Dvorak's popular Piano Quintet in A.

CHGS website has information about Theresienstadt as well as original documents from the ghetto. Be sure to look at the Ghetto Café document- if you look at the bottom you can see Klein is listed as a performer.