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After the Darkness
Hans KRÁSA (1899-1944)
Passacaglia and Fugue (1944) [9:08]
Tanec (1943) [5:48]
Gideon KLEIN (1919-1945)
String Trio (1944) [12:18]
László WEINER (1916-1944)
Serenade (1938) [13:11]
Dick KATTENBURG (1919-1944)
String Trio (1937-39) [5:48]
Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996)
String Trio, Op.48 (1950) [14:47]
The Hague String Trio
rec. July 2018, Renswoude, Netherlands
COBRA 0065 [61:13]

The title of the disc is taken from the book by Elie Wiesel’s subtitled ‘reflections on the Holocaust’. However unlike some all-Czech discs, a few of which take different aspects of composers’ work – quartets, piano sonatas, for instance – this one takes five composers from four different countries and its focus is securely on string trios.

Hans Krása is the only composer to be represented by two works, the Passacaglia and Fugue, and Tanec (Dance), both composed in Terezín. The former work moves from tragic expressive intensity through varying incidents full of fervour, thence to nostalgia and to a kind of locomotive vehemence. The Fugue is played with febrile intensity. In tone colour, personalisation and inflexion the Hague String Trio are rather straighter than the Daniel Hope-Philip Dukes-Paul Watkins trio on Nimbus NI5702, though they take almost identical tempi. Talking of which, in Tanec The Hague Trio take a tempo equidistant between the fast Nimbus and the slow performance of the Czech String Trio on Bonton 710524-2, which is actually the best of the performances of this brief but characteristic piece – their evocation of its folkloric contours is by some way the most natural and convincing.

Gideon Klein’s Trio was also composed in Terezín, in 1944, and is common to all three recordings, this one, the Nimbus and Bonton. Once again, it’s the Czech performance that brings out the rustic evocations the most naturally – they also play with light, wristy felicity – and the Hope-Dukes-Watkins team who are the most overtly emotive in the central Variations on a Moravian song. All three groups explore Klein’s Bartókian stylistic retrenchment in the finale with fine appreciation of its rhythmic vitality.

László Weiner was a student of Kodály and his 1938 Serenade is a clean-limbed, fresh three-movement piece that clearly is not subject to the same ambiguities and complexities – or even nostalgia and frenzy – that preoccupied the Czech composers in their incarceration. Dutch composer Dick Kattenburg wrote his five-minute trio between 1937-39 and it embodies motoric energy that borders, in places, on a kind of controlled frenzy. Kattenburg manages to pack in a great amount of detail and incident into this taut little piece. This is its world premičre recording. Finally, there is Weinberg’s String Trio Op.48 of 1950 with its Jewish motifs spread throughout the three movements, either in accelerating dance form or in more jagged Klezmer-inspired phrases. The cross-currents between Weinberg and Shostakovich are very evident here.

There’s a well-researched booklet note to read and an unproblematic, well-balanced recording to enjoy. The performances are very persuasive and the programme balanced and attractive.

Jonathan Woolf

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