Well done, Naxos!
Benjamin Lees is an American composer who was born in 1924. He is a composer
who has deservedly won many prizes and awards and I have particularly enjoyed
his orchestral works over many years.
As the title suggests the Symphony no 4 is dedicated to the victims
of the holocaust and the soprano sings some verses written by a survivor.
The symphony does not have the dramatic power of say Schoenberg's masterly
A Survivor From Warsaw and I am sure that Lees intended that to be
so. What we have is a compelling work at times that needs to be listened
to and not just played. It is aurally accessible and so those who are savage
about modern music can relax.
Naxos have provided the text of the verses in the excellent booklet and their
effective message is enhanced by the music. The first setting has a title
which is fascinating in itself ... .Someone Blew The Shofar. The horror
and gall of the next song But Who Emptied Your Shoes Of Sand? is very
evocative and what is captured in the last song Footsteps is most
telling, for those who have the appropriate insight
See also earlier review by Rob Barnett as
part of a survey of the Naxos American Classics