Monday, April 2, 2012
Neil W. Levin, at the Milken Archive of Jewish Music, writes, "In composing her String Quartet No. 3 (1997), which is subtitled In Memoriam Holocaust, Schönthal was fully reticent about the artistic as well as ethical dangers inherent in trying to represent through music the calculated annihilation of European Jewry. 'I always wanted to stay away from the Holocaust,' she explained in a 1999 interview, 'because I didn’t want to trivialize it. Some composers use it,' she lamented, referring to the continual opportunistic efforts to exploit the event for personal career attention - a phenomenon that seems to be on the rise even at the beginning of the 21st century. 'They make decorative material out of it - cheap stuff.' Still, Schönthal realized that art is too powerful a medium to eliminate this subject altogether from consideration as a vehicle - not so much of depicting the Holocaust, but of ensuring its perpetual remembrance. 'The challenge here is that when you want to convert something into art with an agenda like that, ultimately it still must be art - it still must be a work on its own.' She feels that eventually she found a way in this work, by using the quartet as a representation of four different personal experiences and reactions, including the most significant and telling element of all: nothing and nothingness. One of the defining features of the Germans’ collective murder of European Jewry - one that in many ways distinguishes it from all previous massacres, perpetrated horrors, and even attempted genocides throughout history - is that the Jews’ death was essentially for no purpose, to no advantage to its enemies, and to accomplish no objective - for nothing. 'Nothing -this is a moment the quartet captures,' Schönthal emphasized. " Watch a performance Ruth Schönthal's String Quartet No. 3, In Memorian Holocaust performed by Alfred Pfleger and Georg Schrofl (violins), Serkan Gurkan (viola), and Irene Frank (cello) . . . one of this week's FEATURED NEW MUSIC VIDEOS.
Piano Spheres (Los Angeles, California, USA) supports and encourages the composition and performance of major new works for the piano. It expands the piano repertoire by commissioning new music and sustaining a concert series of the highest artistic quality which focuses primarily on pieces by contemporary composers. In its concerts, Piano Spheres provides a context for these new works by including lesser-known music by established composers whose compositions influenced the course of piano music. To find out more about Piano Spheres at their website . . . they're our FEATURED ENSEMBLE.
Of Corsican descent, Henri Tomasi was born in 1901 in Marseilles, where he studied before entering the Paris Conservatoire. There he was a composition pupil of Paul Vidal, winning the Prix de Rome in 1927. He also studied with D’Indy. He established himself as a conductor and as a composer for the theatre, with a series of concertos that displayed his very considerable powers of orchestration. He wrote his Ballade for Saxophone (1938) for his friend Marcel Mule, one of the leading saxophonists in France. In form and inspiration the work follows the tradition of the fourteenth-century ballade of the medieval troubadours, with the solo saxophone taking the rôle of the clown. The work is based on a poem by Suzanne Malard, Tomasi's wife. Listen to a performance of Tomasi's Ballade for Saxophone played by saxophonist Hayrapet Arakelyan, and Hochschule für Musik und Tanz, Köln . . . it's one of our PYTHEAS EARFULS for the week.