Hans Krása, Music of Remembrance, Gerard Schwarz - Brundibár

Published Saturday 19th May 2007
Hans Krása, Music of Remembrance, Gerard Schwarz - Brundibár
Hans Krása, Music of Remembrance, Gerard Schwarz - Brundibár

RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Naxos 8570119

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

Hans Krása's opera in two acts, 'Brundibár' would merit only a brief mention were in not for its context. The opera was written for children and tells a simple story of how a brother and sister with some unlikely friends defeat the bully Brundibár and use his ill-gotten money to feed themselves and their family. The music is typical mid 20th century light operetta sounding a little like Lehár on an off day. But context is the key. This piece was performed 55 times at the Terezín concentration camp where some 15,000 children were interned between 1942 and 1945. Fewer than 100 were still alive at the end of the war and also the composer, in his 40S, was gassed at Auschwitz. In addition we get a charming "Overture For Small Orchestra" by Krása and a powerful song cycle by the contemporary American composer Lori Laitman, "I Never Saw Another Butterfly" using six extraordinary poems by Terezín's child prisoners. Laitman, like Britten, is good at allowing the words to speak for themselves. They are sung by Maureen McKay with a lovely clarinet accompaniment by Laura DeLuca. This is not easy listening but this disc deserves to be heard.

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