STABAT MATER combines three compositions for a large mixed choir with further twelve instrumental tracks.
The main title was written for the excellent Czech Kühn Mixed Choir and was meant to be entirely a cappella. Its opening bars on the original digital recording had however been unfortunately wiped during a customs check at the Prague airport and were consequently replaced by the beautiful young Czech lyrical soprano, Šárka Frančová, accompanied by organ. Pavel Kühn, one of the best chorus masters in the latter part of 20th century, tragically died shortly after making these recordings and could not re-record the erased part.
His choir, together with Šárka Frančová, can be also heard in the biblical song Omnia Tempus Habent (A Time for Everything) and in another classic text so often set to music, Ave Maria, written for and sung by the wonderful Czech tenor, Jaroslav Březina.
As these turned out to be the last recordings made by the Kühn Mixed Choir, they are for a change followed by a selection of instrumental music I wrote, performed and produced in the last 25 years: Kol Nidre, Kyrie, Elegy, Guitar Samba, Metalmorphosis, Riff Raff, Yours is the Glory, Just for the Trill of it, Why Not Me, Leaving Earth, Conquistador and Love Theme of a Robot. Another Romantic Robot CD with 80 minutes of music!
Just like mankind continuously tries to understand itself, it keeps on variously interpreting its own heritage, including the Torah, the crucial text for Judaism and also Christianity, as it forms the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible.
The Song of Songs, also known as The Song of Solomon, the Hebrew King to whom it is attributed, is a unique series of 8 love poems. It can be found in any version of the Bible, but otherwise has its overall meaning as much as nearly every word questioned throughout its two millennia of existence.
It is a passionate dialogue of lovers, very sensuous, erotic - quite surprising for a sacred text, where God's name is never mentioned! And yet, although being very descriptive, nearly everything is taken as symbols, and the mutual adoration of Solomon and a peasant girl Shulamith is also seen as an allegory of love between ancient Gods, between God/Moses and the Children of Israel, or Christ and the Church. Either way, it is always love that prevails, in unsurpassed poetry which has been a source of inspiration to myriads of lovers and countless artists throughout the ages.
There are many settings of individual poems in music, but the full text has not been set to music since Palestrina in 1584. I used the Latin translation, sung in warmer Italian Latin. I wrote the music for the wonderful alto and tenor Jaroslava Maxová and Jaroslav Březina, and the angelic soprano Šárka Frančová, "a girl from Jerusalem" commenting on the lovers.
I wish there were words that never existed, or their sole purpose was to describe just an abhorrent, unthinkable, inconceivable thought. But, the words Shoah, or Holocaust, not only exist, but sum up a reality, no matter how horrid and unimaginable. My dad and his brother were the only two of all Goldscheiders sent to various concentration camps who managed to survive - the remaining 23 died, as it was not the thought that perished, but 6,000,000 people who did. 60 years later, and most of us still cannot bear to even try to think what might have actually happened in the camps. Terezín, or Theresienstadt, was exceptional in that it was a transit camp, a small garrison town, where only 1 in 4 died. Not being a purpose built extermination camp, Nazis on a few occasions "beautified" and used it for Red Cross visits to mask what was really happening to millions in other camps. And it was music that was played as part of the evil propa-ganda - the classic Verdi's Requiem alongside the children's opera Brundibár written by a Terezín inmate, Hans Krása.
"Music! Music was life!" exclaimed later Greta Hoffmeister, Aninka from Brundibár, although tragically one of only 100 out of 15,000 children sent to Terezín, who survived.
This is the first CD set with music written and performed in Terezín, and it became The CD of the Year in 1992 both in England and US. Please listen at least to the sample tracks to see how beauty succeeded to exist in the most bestial circumstances - and how it is very much alive today!
When I was searching through the archives of the Czech Radio in 1991, I came across a 1973 recording of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra with Copland’s seminal Billy the Kid and largely unknown Inscape.
Shockingly, Aaron Copland was listed as a conductor as well, and there turned out to be two large tapes containing a full concert, with repertoire completely beyond belief, and not just for its time and place: Ives’s magical, but hard to find, Unanswered Question, Stravinsky’s virtually never played or recorded Ode, Martinů’s just as unavailable and unique Half-Time, William Schuman’s no less rare New England Triptych plus an encore: Bernstein’s rousing Candide Overture.
I challenge any listener to find anything even remotely similar in terms of such audacious selection of music, combined with Copland’s inimitable knowledge and interpretation of works of composers he personally knew very well, be it from Paris, Harvard or Tanglewood.
That such a concert could have taken place in Prague after the Soviet-led invasion is a simply a miracle, topped up by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra’s great playing and enriched by the glorious acoustics of the famous Prague Dvořákova Síň at Rudolfinum.
An absolute gem in every respect, and all for under £10!
SONG OF SONGS
TEREZÍN (2 CD)
The Music 1941-1944
ROMANTIC ROBOT is a small independent label named after a song I wrote back in 1978.
It currently offers 4 CDs which are available here at a very special web price of £9.95 each + minimal p&p.
It is also possible to download the CDs or their parts if you write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your request – the compositions vary in their length and cost and I shall therefore treat each order individually.
You can listen to mp3 quality samples of all music by clicking on each CD – their contents will be displayed with all the tracks, lyrics, booklets and covers.
Thank you for reading, listening - and hopefully ordering!
P.S. You can also listen to my music at http://www.last.fm/music/Alexander+Goldscheider
or view videos at
15 Hayland Close, London NW9 0LH
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