A Survivor From Warsaw

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lennygoran
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A Survivor From Warsaw

Post by lennygoran » Fri May 05, 2017 7:07 am

I never heard of this work before until reading this review and then going to you tube. Regards, Len


Review: An ‘Ode to Joy’ Troubled by Holocaust Memories

By ANTHONY TOMMASINI MAY 4, 2017


Alan Gilbert’s tenure as music director of the New York Philharmonic culminates next month with a “Concert for Unity” that will involve musicians from around the world, including Iran and Israel, China and Cuba. But the theme of unity, and its brutal opposite, also defined the first of Mr. Gilbert’s farewell programs on Wednesday night at David Geffen Hall.

The main work was Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. But Mr. Gilbert opened the concert with Schoenberg’s “A Survivor From Warsaw,” a shattering piece for narrator, male chorus and orchestra with a text drawn from the report of a Jew in Nazi-occupied Warsaw en route to extermination. “All men are brothers,” the chorus sings in Beethoven’s setting of Schiller’s idealistic “Ode to Joy” in the finale of the Ninth Symphony. Schoenberg’s “Survivor” says, “We all on the ground who could not stand up were then beaten over the head.”

Schoenberg’s piece, composed in 1947 and last played by the Philharmonic in 1974, lasts just under nine minutes, while Beethoven’s symphony is more than an hour. But in this pairing the works had comparable power, especially since they were performed without a break. That Schoenberg employs his 12-tone technique in this score is the least important thing to know about it. Sounding searing under Mr. Gilbert, the music is anguished, vehement and sometimes delicately poignant.

The narrator delivers the text, written by the composer in English and German, in Sprechstimme, halfway between speaking and singing, and the Tony-winning actor Gabriel Ebert gave a riveting account, enunciating the words with chilling crispness. A male chorus enters at the end, as the narrator describes Jewish prisoners singing a Hebrew prayer as they are marched to the gas chambers. In this performance, the men of the impressive Westminster Symphonic Choir marched down the aisles of the hall, then stood there, in the midst of the audience, to sing that prayer with stentorian fervor.

At the end, the hall went dark. When the lights came back on, Mr. Gilbert immediately began the Beethoven symphony.

For all his innovations at the Philharmonic, the most common complaint about Mr. Gilbert concerns a lack of excitement in his conducting of certain standard repertory works. His Ninth, for many, may well be a case in point. Other conductors have brought more intensity to the music. But I appreciated the clarity Mr. Gilbert drew from this fraught score. Inner details came through vividly, especially intricate tangles of counterpoint during teeming episodes of the first movement. The scherzo had lithe energy, if less mystery and suspense. The great adagio had flowing lyricism and breadth.

The excellent Westminster choir, directed by Joe Miller, sounded youthful and robust during the choral finale. And the performance had a strong quartet of vocal soloists: the soprano Camilla Tilling, the mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack, the tenor Joseph Kaiser and the bass-baritone Eric Owens.


https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/04/arts ... ctionfront




jbuck919
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Re: A Survivor From Warsaw

Post by jbuck919 » Fri May 05, 2017 5:32 pm

According to Carl Weinrich, the then all-male Princeton University Chapel Choir, which he directed, gave the New York debut performance of this with the NY Philharmonic. I don't know if this is a regular feature of performances of "Survior," but in that performance at least there was a moment when the choir (wearing their chapel choir robes) pulled them open revealing as close to nudity as would be allowable in those days. (Slightly post-adolescent choirs that wear long robes are known to joke that someday they'll all do a service wearing nothing under their robes, but this was the real thing.) Now don't shoot the messenger if this is not true, but according to Weinrich, it was the first time the NY Philharmonic every encored anything.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

lennygoran
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Re: A Survivor From Warsaw

Post by lennygoran » Fri May 05, 2017 7:04 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Fri May 05, 2017 5:32 pm
Now don't shoot the messenger if this is not true, but according to Weinrich, it was the first time the NY Philharmonic every encored anything.
Amazing-still even if it's not true I won't be shooting at you-of course this summer I'll be in Glimmerglass and probably near Albany so I may be in range to take a shot! Regards, Len :lol:

jbuck919
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Posts: 26048
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
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Re: A Survivor From Warsaw

Post by jbuck919 » Fri May 05, 2017 8:00 pm

lennygoran wrote:
Fri May 05, 2017 7:04 pm
jbuck919 wrote:
Fri May 05, 2017 5:32 pm
Now don't shoot the messenger if this is not true, but according to Weinrich, it was the first time the NY Philharmonic every encored anything.
Amazing-still even if it's not true I won't be shooting at you-of course this summer I'll be in Glimmerglass and probably near Albany so I may be in range to take a shot! Regards, Len :lol:
Oh I simply cannot guess which Glimmerglass production interests you this year. Um--Oklahoma? :lol:

Sorry, no intersection of interests this year. (I note also that they are performing Moniuszko's Halka at Bard as the back-door way of getting an opera into a Chopin festival.) In the meantime, the Saratoga Opera is performing Falstaff, which was also attempted by the Seagle Music Colony a couple of years ago. I may attend just because it's convenient, but I'll bring along the bite guard I wear at night because my dentist tells me my teeth are way too worn from grinding them in my sleep.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

lennygoran
Posts: 12789
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: A Survivor From Warsaw

Post by lennygoran » Sat May 06, 2017 5:10 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Fri May 05, 2017 8:00 pm
Oh I simply cannot guess which Glimmerglass production interests you this year. Um--Oklahoma? :lol:Sorry, no intersection of interests this year. (I note also that they are performing Moniuszko's Halka at Bard as the back-door way of getting an opera into a Chopin festival.)
I have my tickets already-Glimmerglass for Xerxes and The Siege of Calais--Bard for Dimitrij. What's this about Bard and Moniuszko's Halka--I'd love to see that one! Regards, Len

PS-now I found it-semi staged-still this is tempting-I knew nothing about it but I'm interested!

Stanisław Moniuszko’s Halka (1858), Bard Music Festival Program 9

Although several of Chopin’s contemporaries explicitly expressed the hope that he would be the one to write Poland’s first great opera, that distinction fell instead to his compatriot Stanisław Moniuszko (1819–72). On August 19, Bard presents an all-too-rare semi-staged performance of Halka (1858), the four-act masterwork with which Moniuszko ensured his legacy as the father of Polish opera. Set to a politically charged libretto by Włodzimierz Wolski, a poet with radical social views, Halka is the story of the eponymous young peasant woman whose arrival disrupts an engagement party between wealthy landowners Janusz and Zofia. It soon transpires that Halka is not only in love with Janusz, but believes herself engaged to him, and is pregnant with his child. When she loses the baby and learns that Janusz intends to go ahead with the wedding, Halka is broken-hearted, and, after fantasizing about revenge, takes her own life instead. Regularly performed in Poland, Halka remains virtually unknown abroad, despite being “redolent with the melodic flavors of Polish folk music and balladry” (New York Times), and hailed as “melodious, affecting and appealing: … a rare treat” (Washington Post).

Bard’s semi-staged production stars Amanda Majeski in the title role. A Polish-American soprano whose honors include first prize at the Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition, Majeski recently gave “a commanding performance” (Opera News) at Washington National Opera that proved “a great showcase for her rich, resonant soprano” (Financial Times). Singing opposite her as the faithless Janusz is Aubrey Allicock, who graced Bard’s “Turandot Project” last summer, and whose “bass-baritone has a distinctively glossy, warm color, with increasingly impressive freedom and fullness at the top of its range” (Opera News). Returning to the festival after her “consistently excellent” (New York Arts) appearances in previous seasons, mezzo-soprano Teresa Buchholz – winner of the female division at Carnegie Hall’s Nico Castel International Master Singer Competition – sings the role of Janusz’s kind-hearted young bride, Zofia. Liam Moran, a “sturdy bass who sings with affecting gravity” (New York Times), undertakes that of her father, Stolnik, and Miles Mykkanen, a 2016 Sullivan Foundation award recipient who impressed Opera News with his tenor’s “sheer vocal gold,” sings the part of Jontek, an old friend of Halka’s whose love for her remains unrequited.

Returning to helm Bard’s semi-staged production are director Mary Birnbaum, scenic designer Grace Laubacher, and lighting designer Anshuman Bhatia, the creative team behind last year’s double-bill of Le Villi and La Navarraise. “A director of real quality” (Houston Press), Birnbaum is an International Opera Awards finalist whose work has been variously described as “unsettlingly immediate” (New York Times) and “a dazzling display of inventiveness and … delight” (San Francisco Chronicle).

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