Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Robert STERN (b.1934)
Hazkarah (1998) [10.52]
Tom MYRON (b.1959)
Käthe Kollwitz (1998) [29.12]
Lukas FOSS (b.1922)
Anne Frank - a tone poem about her life and death (1998) [8.17]
Karl WEIGL (1881-1949)
Piano Trio (1939) [22.16]
Steven Honigberg (cello) all four works
Carol Honigberg (piano) Stern
Kathryn Brake (piano) Foss
Joseph Holt (piano) Weigl
George Marsh (violin) Weigl; Myron
Patricia Green (sop) Myron
Glenn Donnellan (violin) Myron
Tsuna Sakamoto (viola) Myron
rec Mar-Apr 2000, St Lukes Church, McLean, VA.
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Steven Honigberg's name is not unfamiliar to me. Last year he sent me another Albany CD for review. This was an outstanding Korngold chamber music collection. Since then there have been seven other Albany discs. Amongst them is a mother-son project - the complete works of Beethoven for cello and piano (TROY 268/269).

Honigberg is a member of the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington. He is Director of the Chamber Music Series at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. This last connection explains the three volumes of the Darkness and Light series which features music by composers in exile from Hitler, by those who died in the camps or works written about the Second World War and the Holcaust. Honigberg's Korngold and Toch recitals are similarly connected.

Darkness and Light No. 3 offers three works written in the 1990s and one written by Karl Weigl in 1939 in New York fresh from his flight from Austria.

Honigberg has a knack for choosing winners or being chosen by them. Robert Stern, who smiles out affably from the booklet photo has Eastman credentials. His Yam Hamelach (The Dead Sea), an orchestral piece, won the second prize in Trieste in 1979. His vocal music has been played at the Holocaust Museum which presumably is where he and Honigsberg met. His Hazkarah was prompted by reading Ruth Bondy's Elder of the Jews and her bleakly unflinching verdict on the six million. Bondy does not allow herself, or us, the luxury of saying that they died for freedom or for a Jewish State; 'they died because they were not allowed to live'. Stern writes with frictionless emotion - perfect communication. Hazkarah is hoarse, emotional protesting, gripping - writing that challenges the comfort of the armchair listener. The passion of the writing and the performance links this work with Bloch's Schelomo (though it is superior in invention to the Bloch work), with the Kodaly unaccompanied Sonata (in fact Honigsberg recalls Starker's tone), and with Arnold Bax's much underestimated Rhapsodic Ballad.

Tom Myron began writing music in his early teens and has studied with Maw and Reich. Käthe Kollwitz refers to the German artist whose etchings, woodcuts and lithographs make such a spare and unnerving impact. The words are by Muriel Rukeyser whose five part poem makes up the five songs of this cycle for soprano and string quartet. This music has the air of a work either knowingly or unconsciously written for dramatic soprano and full orchestra. It is dramatic stuff with lyrical moments of refuge from turmoil - hectic with activity. Barber's Knoxville comes to mind occasionally. In The Process Myron's reserves of lyricism are gloriously breached. The World Split Open is declamatory, delivered with cantorial tension and intensity. It is as well that the full sung texts are provided as it is not consistently easy to make out what Patricia Green is singing.

Lukas Foss is likely to be a name well known to many. His Anne Frank piece is tougher than the Myron or Stern. The rhapsodic course of this poem proceeds through skipping throat-sore songs of childhood, through images of waters stirred, via a lyric slowed impulse to bell and funeral taps effects (5.08), to the Horst Wessel song and a recollection of playful childhood songs hinting at Anne's death. This is a work likely to repay further listenings.

The Weigl is in three movements, two allegros and an andante. The first dives in with no polite preliminaries, loud with struggle and stress. It is densely active - possibly too much for its own good as it needs room to breathe. The music has a Brahmsian sense of struggle and achievement. This is masterly carried off and the work is very far from negligible though its density tells against it when compared with the clarity of the Weigl string quartets. The andante is Bachian and song-like. This again is very Brahmsian with a flicker of grand Hungarian days. The rustic rush of the finale imparts yet more Hungarian colour (e.g. 1.23 of track 10). For me the lovely warm Viennese melody at 3.31 evokes high stepping horses and landaus - days gone by for the struggling Weigl still trying to find his feet in a strange land.

A daringly planned well recorded disc showing that the world of insightful and adventurous composers, artists and record producers has vigour yet and the power to delight and to shake complacency.

Rob Barnett

A Note

As the composer's grandson, I am particularly pleased that Steven Honigberg included the Weigl Trio on this CD. With my family, I was able to attend a performance of this piece a year ago as part of the Holocaust Museum's chamber music series, and it made a lasting impression on all who attended, especially my own young daughter who is an aspiring violinist. On these Darkness & Light recordings, the beautifully performed music provides a continuing remembrance of those who suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

Two of the many Weigl music projects currently underway are a recording of his 5th Symphony on BIS, with Thomas Sanderling conducting the Berlin Radio Orchestra; and a national radio broadcast on November 29, 2001 of a concert of Weigl music with violinist Philippe Graffin, pianist Pascal Godart, and soprano Evelyn Chih-Yih Chan plus Michael Haas as program moderator. I welcome any inquiries about these or other Weigl music events and recordings:

Karl C Weigl


Darkness and Light Vol. 1 - Albany TROY 157

Ben-Haim, Starer; Berlinski; Perle; Vainberg

Darkness and Light Vol. 2 - Albany TROY 229

Koffler, Laks, Diamond, Mesiaen, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Ben-Haim

American Album - Albany TROY 082

Foss, Diamond, Bernstein, Schuller, Barber

Ernst Toch complete cello works - Albany TROY 421

Erich Wolfgang Korngold chamber music - Albany TROY 348

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