The red thread in this
apparently disparate recital is the
fact that the three composers were contemporaries
and all three suffered from Nazism.
While belonging to different cultural
backgrounds (Czech, German and Viennese)
the trio were Jews. Pavel Haas, whose
music is now reasonably well known mainly
through Decca’s Entartete Musik series,
had the most tragic fate. He was deported
to Terezin and died in Auschwitz in
1944, whereas Wolpe and Gál were
forced into exile, in the States and
in Great Britain respectively.
for Oboe and Piano begun in
1939 was eventually completed in 1941.
It clearly reflects the composer’s feelings
during these difficult and perilous
years, when the Nazis came to power.
This comes particularly clearly through
allusions to and quotes from the well-known
Wenceslas chorale and a Hussite song,
in which both acquire an emblematic
significant: as an act of resistance
against German aggression. The movement
layout is unusual, in that the first
two are tense and troubled, whereas
the final slow movement is generally
elegiac in mood. For the finale the
composer attempts at to imbue it with
the light of hope reflected in his reliance
on the Hussite chorale.
Although composed at
roughly the same time as Haas’s Suite,
Wolpe’s Oboe Sonata is
completely different, mainly because
it does not seem to reflect on the historical
and political climate of the times.
It is classical in design and idiom,
although it is partly dodecaphonic.
The music is mainly expressive and fairly
straightforward, and – on the whole
– accessible and often very attractive.
This is a substantial piece in four
movements, of which the third is a brief,
violent Scherzo marked Bitter, violent
and rapid. It strongly contrasts
with the other, mostly expressive and
for Oboe and Piano Op.85 is
a late work composed long after he had
emigrated to Great Britain in 1938.
It is another substantial work in three
movements, in an overtly lyrical, Post-romantic
idiom, full of big, generous tunes.
This is a fine release.
Dedicated and convincing readings of
three fairly unusual works - all worth
hearing. The recording is very good
indeed, if a bit too close for some
tastes; but this should not deter anyone
from investigating this highly rewarding
see also Three
emigrés: Gál, Gerhard